Dear Raganubhava rasikas,
A very Happy New Year to you all! We have now marched into the new millennium with renewed
vigour and determination to serve the cause of music.
Last year saw a variety of activities undertaken by the Carnatica Archival Centre. Some of
the highlights were:
- The launch of the new web portal www.carnatica.com on 10th
September 2000 at a grand function held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai. Thus far, it
has been a runaway success, having received global recognition and respect within the
short span of 4 months.
- The Vadyanubhava series The unique all-instrumental
festival, which was held in Narada Gana Sabha between 24th and 30th November 2000. A
variety of instruments ranging from the ancient Vina to the recent entrant, Saxophone were
featured in this. There were also representations of various styles or banis, wherever
- The launch of another web site entitled www.mymusicalbum.com
in December 2000, which specialises in custom-made CDs and cassettes with an exclusive
database containing the music of popular as well as rare artistes.
- The Sahityanubhava session, to highlight the greatness of
the lyrics in our compositions, not to mention the composers themselves. This took place
on November 11, 2000.
All the above were, of course, activities besides our usual
Raganubhava sessions. We had eight such sessions last year and a total of eleven so far.
We feel happy that our initiative in organising such sessions has paid off in more ways
than one. That other organisations are following suit is proof enough of how big a success
As always, we would like to emphasise that nothing would be possible without the
cooperation of musicians and music lovers. We take the opportunity to thank each one of
you and look forward to your continued support.
NOTES ON RAGA MUKHARI BY DR. V V SRIVATSA:
The antiquity of raga Mukhari was never in doubt; they were created only in respect of its
identity. Sarveshu raaga melaanaam Mukhari mela aadimaha is the
reference in a text, a passage without interpretational uncertainity. Mukhari was the
first mela, so it is said.
The raga we know nowadays as Mukhari, is a fine-honed melody, comprising swaras
embellished with many fine Sruti levels. All these swaras are ascribed to the ancient
Shadja Grama. A section of ancient scholars did aver that the Shadja Grama comprised
Suddha swaras. This led to the implication that a mela consisting of Suddha swaras is a
Suddha mela. The passage cited above does not refer to a Suddha mela. The aftermath of the
codification of twelve swaras, included the advent of swarasthanas like Dwisruti Rishabha,
Dwisruti Dhaivata, as well as those of Suddha Gandhara and Suddha Nishada. A lacuna that
spread widely was that Suddha Gandhara and Suddha Nishada had to be present in a Suddha
mela. While the contribution of Venkatamakhi overrated the above-stated lacuna as a
concept and virtually created a Trishanku swarga, a Mukhari, which is a Suddha mela.
Venkatamakhi propounded that, Mukhaaryaak yasya Raagasya aarohe ga ni varjitaha,
Sampoornah sagrahopeta sarvakaaleshu geeyate.
A raga Mukhari, audava-sampoorna in structure, was created to justify an unwarranted
premise. This raga had Suddha Gandhara and Suddha Nishada. Curiously, only in the
Avarohana! However, note that the name used by Venkatamakhi is just Mukhari. Govindacharya
was aware of this so-called Suddha-mela Mukhari. His concept was different from that of
Venkatamakhi and he distinguished this raga from the other Mukhari, by the prefix
sumelaascha jaataa Suddha Mukhaarikaa
Shadja nyaasa samshakam chaiva sa Shadjagraham uchyate
Aarohe ta sampoornam, avarohe pa varjitam
Sa ri ga ma pa da ni Sa, ni da ma ga ri sa ni sa
The sampoorna-shadava Suddha Mukhari of
Govindacharya is a different cup of tea.
The traditional loyalist of the Venkatamakhi
system that he was, Muthuswami Dikshitar gulped Venkatamakhis dictum and accepted
both Mukhari formats. No harm came out of this act of Dikshitar, only good! We have a
short but delectable composition of his in raga Suddha Mukhari, Muraharena
Mukundena Keshavena rakshitoham. Unmoved by all contradictions, Tulajaji
correctly stated that raga Mukhari was a Grama raga. All controversy would
have been laid to rest, if only Tulajaji had called Mukhari a Shadja grama raga. The raga
Mukhari detailed by both Tulajaji and Shahaji corresponds almost to the contemporary raga
known as Mukhari. The only difference is that they permitted usage of the prastara
ga-ma-pa, which is not currently practiced. Govindacharya clearly identifies
raga Mukhari as a derivative of the mela Kharaharapriya:
sanjaato melaat kharaharapriyaat
Sanyasam saamshakam chaiva sa shadja graham uchyate
Ga variya vakram aarohe apyavarohe samagraham
Sa ri ma pa da ni da Sa, ni da pa ma ga ri sa ri
The shadava-sampoorna version of raga Mukhari
has found wide acceptance, sidelining the subsequent postulation of Subbarama Dikshitar
that Nishada swara is absent in the Aarohana and that the raga is audava-sampoorna.
The presence of dual Dhaivatas in this raga is not amorphous. In the arohana, usually the
Chatusruti version is used and in the Avarohana, Suddha Dhaivata. A unique feature of this
raga is the omnisonorous Rishabha swara.
It must also be noted that Mukhari does not foster the usage of Datu or Janta swaras;
Aahata or Pratyaahata usages are also not favoured. Elaboration of this raga is nice and
fine but has to be limited if repetitive phrases are to be avoided. Even swaraprastara has
to be limited if aesthetic values have to be conserved. With all these limitations, what
is so great about this raga?
This raga is highly rasa-oriented and provides for a multiplicity of rasa-s. One
musicologist called Mukhari a Bahurangee raga, meaning a raga of different
shades and colours. We can visualise this view, best, through some compositions. Elavatara
is ascribed to Adbhuta rasa (wonderment), Saraseeruhanana to
Sringara rasa (romanticism), Ksheenamai to Raudra rasa
(fury), Sangeeta Sastra to Shanta rasa (peace) and Muripemu
Galige to Bhakti rasa (devotion). All these compositions are of
Tyagaraja, a master-craftsman who brought out a comprehensive rasa-anubhava
(experience of emotion) through his compositions.
Unwanted indeed is the superimposition of soka rasa (melancholy) on this raga. A
Kavadi Chindu has the words Mohana Mukhari, referring to this raga as
charming. How can such a raga be deemed as inauspicious? The view that Mukhari is
inauspicious has permeated and percolated to such an extent that there is a taboo on its
being rendered on festive or happy occasions!
There is also the complexity of classifying this raga under the 20th or the 22nd mela
(Natabhairavi and Kharaharapriya respectively). Several sookshma (minute) srutis
found in raga Bhairavi are found in raga Mukhari also. The general view is in favour of
the 22nd mela.
A REPORT ON THE RAGANUBHAVA SESSION ON MUKHARI, HELD ON 10TH NOVEMBER 2000:
Dr. V V Srivatsa (Introduction and historical background): Mukhari is one
of the ancient, pristine ragas and was accorded, in days bygone, the status of a mela by
musicologists like Tulajaji. We learn from texts like the Sangeeta Saramrita that the
traditional name for this raga was Suddha Sadarita, which subsequently got
modified as Mukhari, in common parlance. Reference to Mukhari as a Suddha mela did cause
confusion and resulted in two ragas, namely, Suddha Mukhari and Mukhari. The raga in vogue
today, was structurally enunciated by Shahaji and Tulajaji. Textual references to raga
Mukhari are available in ancient treatises, ranging from the Sangeeta Makaranda
to Sangeeta Ratnakara. Venkatamakhi refers to raga Mukhari as Poorva-Prasiddha,
i.e., well known even prior to his time. Copper plates found in the Tirumala temple
precincts refer to two songs of Annamacharya in this raga, Aakali Velala
and Naanaati bratuku (the second song is now rendered in raga
Revati). Haridasa tradition holds that Purandaradasas devaranamas Vasudeva
Naamaavaliya and Paalisamma muddu Sarade were always
rendered in raga Mukhari. Narayana Teerthas Krishna Leela Tarangini shows that the
Tarangam Krishnam kalaya sakhi was tuned to raga Mukhari.
Govindacharya defined this raga as Gandhara swara varjita (meaning a raga wherein
the note Ga is absent) in the arohana and gave the scale as a vakra (zigzag)
sa-ri-ma-pa-ni-da-Sa. The avarohana was sampoorna (containing all seven notes) and
sequential too. Subbarama Dikshitar stated that the Nishada swara is also to be excluded
in the arohana and that the ascent was without vakra. In Subbarama Dikshitars view,
this raga is audava-sampoorna. Nevertheless, the majority and consensus view is that this
raga is shadava-sampoorna and that Govindacharyas portrayal is perfect.
Chitravina N Ravikiran (Melodic individuality): The constituent swaras of
this raga are Chatusruti Rishabha, Sadharana Gandhara, Suddha Madhyama, Panchama,
Chatusruti Dhaivata, Suddha Dhaivata and Kaisika Nishada. The presence of two Dhaivata
swaras renders this a Bhashanga raga. The Chatusruti Dhaivata dominates the Arohana,
especially in the prayoga pa-dha-Sa, while the Suddha Dhaivata is usually rendered in the
The presence of two Dhaivatas results in complications in classification. Undoubtedly,
Bhairavi and Manji are proximate ragas, notwithstanding which, Mukhari has its own melodic
identity. Mukhari is a raga known for its multi-faceted rasaanubhava. It is
maligned as a raga, which exudes sorrow, as a soka rasa pradhana raga, which is
factually and musicologically erroneous.
Mukhari has a strong poorvanga and uttaraanga, requiring correct
emphasis of some swaras, to establish the melodic individuality. Stress is usually laid on
Madhyama in prayogas like sa-ri-ma-ga-ri. The emphasis shifts to Rishabha in passages like
pa-da-Sa-Ri. This warrants correct conception and proper emphasis by the performer. The
raga mudra has been used by Muthuswami Dikshitar, in one of his compositions, Pahimam
There is finite difference and distinction between Mukhari and other allied ragas like
Huseni, Bhairavi and Salagabhairavi. (Ravikiran rendered briefly, some passages, to
accentuate this distinction).
The scope of rasanubhava in this raga is quite wide although the dominant rasas can be Karuna
and Soka rasa-s. (He referred to compositions of Tyagaraja to substantiate the
view that Bhakti, Sringara and Shanta rasa-s can also be effectively
portrayed in this raga.) Thus, this raga has melodic individuality.
T K Govinda Rao (Manodharma or creative aspects): The emphasis on a
particular Dhaivata conditions the manodharma in this raga. Normally, the Chatusruti
Dhaivata acquires more emphasis. However on some occassions, the Suddha Dhaivata is
emphasised. Such variance is made primarily to suit the composition being rendered.
Embellishment of any raga, especially of the likes of Mukhari, was attained only when the
Vadi-Samvadi aspects were stressed. Mundane adherence to the scale serves no aesthetic
purpose. Madhyama and the Tara sthayi Rishabha are the jeeva
(life-giving) swaras of this raga. A performer who does not accentuate the jeeva swaras
will have no jeeva in his rendition.
Rama Ravi (Gamakas and Anuswaras): Great musicians comprehended gamakas
(ornamentations) in an all-encompassing manner and not as a mere oscillation of a
note. The delicate nuances and vital role of gamakas in Mukhari, is best visualised
through the compositions of maestros. The kampita gamaka permits plurality. A regular and
uniform oscillation between two tones, is seen in respect of Madhyama in Tyagarajas
Elaavatara, while a delicate, fine throb is seen, in passages like
Kelaayo (Sivakamasundari) or Arivaar
(Arivaar yaar unnai). Two more varieties of kampita gamaka, plaavita and tarangita,
involving sustained notes, can be seen in passages like Kammani Phalamu
(Entaninne) and Paataki nechaala (Ososinamadi, a Padam).
Mukhari permits wide usage of Jaru type of gamakas. Irakka Jaru, i.e., descent
from higher Shadja to Panchama or from Panchama to Rishabha, is best seen in the passage Saarasalochani
(Emani ne). When an exponent merges the Rishabha with Madhyama and the Madhyama with
Panchama, in the passage ri-ma-pa, the Leena (merger) type of Gamaka
is best seen.
Anuswara oriented gamakas like Sphurita, Orikkai and Varek also abound
in Mukhari. Janta type of swaras permit Sphurita gamaka. The passage
Ri-Sa-ni-dha-pa in the Chittaswara portion of the kriti Emani ne is
an illustration for Orikkai type. If the conventional avarohana of raga Mukhari
was rendered in slow-tempo, the presence of Varek type of gamaka can be
discerned. (Rama Ravi rendered the illusrations cited by her.)
Madurai G S Mani (Raga Mukhari in Cinema music): Music directors like G
Ramanathan and M S Viswanathan were in favour of providing a classical base to cinematic
compositions but modified them marginally to enhance appeal to layman listeners. This
meant only minor modifications, some uncommon usages, but no infringement of the
classic idiom. [Recounting an incident, G S Mani stated and demonstrated how a classical
composition metamorphosised into a cinematic tune. Songs rendered by him included Vaada
malare (Film: Ambikaapati), Yaar poi solluvaar (Film: Harischandra)
and Kanavu kanden (Film: Sivagangai Seemai)].
Dr. Srivatsa (Compositions): Patnam Subramanya Iyer has composed a Tana
Varnam. Popular compositions of Tyagaraja include Entaninne,
Karubaru, Ksheenamai, Elavatara and Sangeeta
sastra. A rare kriti of Tyagaraja, is Talachinantate. The
composition Muripemu which was very popular thirty-forty years ago,
has gone out of circulation. The kriti Pahimaam Ratchanachala is the
best known kriti of Dikshitar in this raga. The absence of any composition by Syama Sastri
in this raga is adequately compensated by Subbaraya Sastris Emani ne.
Neelakanta Sivans Enraikku Sivakripai moves even a
stone-hearted listener to tears! Papanasam Sivans Sivakama Sundari
is a popular song, while his other compositions like Adimalar and
Saranam Ayyappa are rarely heard.
Some good compositions in this raga, which have now become obsolete are Patnam Subramanya
Iyers Eppudu Kripa galguno, Kumara Ettendras Sivagurunatha
and Kavi Kunjara Bharatis Innamum enmel.
Mention has to be made of Swati Tirunals Bhavati Viswasa, a
noble composition integral to the Navaratnamalika group. Kshetrayyas Padams Ososi
namadi and Emmana vanatim are known to a select few.
Modern composers including Tulasivanam and G S Mani have also composed in this raga.
Annamacharyas Brahma kadigina is nowadays being rendered in