Raganubhava Proceedings

Shriranjani, Abhogi, Jayamanohari

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As part of its three day annual celebrations, Carnatica hosted a Raganubhava session to discuss three janya ragas of Kharaharapriya namely Shriranjani, Abhogi and Jayamanohari. The panelists were: Dr. Sriram Parasuram, Chitravina Ravikiran and vocalist V. Subramanyam, with Dr. V. V. Srivatsa as convenor. The programme started with vintage recordings in the three ragas of the day. This was followed by a brief welcome speech by Shashikiran, Director (Carnatica).

Dr. Srivatsa traced the lineage of the ragas to open the discussion. In a continuation of the previous session on Kharaharapriya the ragas Abhogi, Sriranjani and Jayamanohari are taken for analysis, he said. These ragas are of the same lineage. Venkatamakhi's unparalleled treatise on the 72 ragas shows that the ragas have been given shape by different permutations and combinations of swaras. The ragas with five swaras being the AUDAVA ragas, with six swaras being SHADAVA ragas and the ones complete with the seven swaras being SAMPURNA ragas. In this context, Abhogi has five swaras, Shriranjani six and Jayamanohari seven. There may be 225 audava ragas and 360 shadava ragas and those containing all the swaras a few. Only that which is melodious to the ear may be called a raga. The raga that gives bhOgam is Abhogi, that which gives pleasure to the ear is Shriranjani and that which gives pleasure to the mind is Jayamanohari. Among the janyas of the 22nd melakartha Kharaharapriya, these three ragas occupy an important place. They are panchamoorchita, poornaprasiddha ragas. The Kulachendra Sangeetha Saralamritha gives the first hint of Shriranjani, which makes it the moola raga. Ragas can also be classified according to gender and by this Abhogi is a 'kumara' (M), Shriranjani 'stree' (F) and Jayamanohari which is a combination of both, is an 'ardhanareeshwara' raga. The ragas came before the advent of the trinity but Shyama Shastri, unlike his peers has not used them in his compositions. Abhogi and Shriranjani are treated on par by Thyagaraja and Muthuswamy Dikshitar. However Abhogi has not been included in the list in Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini by Subbarama Dikshitar. Abhogi and Shriranjani have certain similarities and dissimilarities. Ri, ma, dha form the swarasthana or maybe nyasa swaras of Abhogi, whereas ga and ni form the kampitha swaras for Shriranjani. Both are moorchana, tristAyi, sama kalapramana rakti ragas which can be traversed from the mandra stayi panchamam to the madhyama of the thara stayi. The ragas enable kadu, janta and pratyahata prayogams. Both do not stick to any specific kalapramana. Abhogi is not an athi duritha raga whereas Shriranjani is famous for duritham. 

Sriram Parasuram took over from Dr. Srivatsa to bring out the features of the ragas in the Hindustani style. Abhogi occupies an important place in Hindustani music. Basically when a raga moves from one system to another it seeps into the aesthetics of that system. The gamakas and swaras make a style and in the last 50 years Abhogi has become a main scale raga. Sriram then demonstrated the raga by singing the aarohanam and avarohanam and also a few intricate phrases. Although it was referred to by some as Abhogi Kannada, the 2 prayogas of ga-ma-ri and dha-ni-pa do not arise in Abhogi and so its reference as Abhogi Kannada is not correct. In Hindustani, krama and dhatu give more freedom to sing. Sriram also demonstrated the use of the ga-ma-ri phrase in the arohanam and the omission of ga in the avarohanam, and also the use of panchama for embellishment as in the case of Hamsadhwani where dha is touched upon for beauty. These notes known as touch notes, although not a part of the raga, are used for adding continuity and thrill to the raga. The griha bheda from Ma to Ma in Abhogi ends in Kalavathi (Valaji)... this was brought out beautifully by Sriram. He also sang a few phrases with ma as shadjam and elaborated from that point to show that the modeling of the two ragas was same. Kalavathi can be modified to Abhogi and the flourishes of the former matched the latter. When a raga is adapted to a system, it always takes the help of an established raga. For example, Dwijavanthi when adapted to Carnatic music takes the help of ragas like Sahana and Yadukulakambhoji. The importance of Janta is high in Abhogi. It is used as an easier way to sing, when there is a large gap between two swaras like in Hindolam and Malkauns. The ma-dha gap can be bridged by a janta. It stays to become a beautiful part of the raga and its importance as a manodharma feature is pronounced in Abhogi. Gandhara also occupies a pride of place in Hindustani music. Gandhara is elaborate and resolves in Rishabha. Shadja and Rishabha have resolving functions in Hindustani Abhogi. In Carnatic Abhogi, Rishabha is more important in terms of development of raga. Bageshree is sung with a solid panchama while in Abhogi it is only a pass note, an amsa swara. But in the traditional Bageshree a hundred years ago, the use of panchama was minimum. Bageshree without Pa is Shriranjani. In Bageshree ni develops and ends in dha. In Shriranjani, symmetry is possible as we have ri-ga-ma and dha-ni-sa, so development is also easy. This facility is not there in Abhogi. Sriram also sang a couple of songs. 

Dr. Srivatsa, at the end of Sriram's talk said that while Shriranjani allowed scope for raga expansion, Abhogi was good for tanam and so the ragas were complementary. The next panelist Ravikiran, dealt with the gamaka aspects of the ragas. His elucidation with more importance to demonstrations added colour to the whole exercise. He laid emphasis on the fact all ragas should be rakti oriented and demonstrated phrases in Abhogi with oscillations on the swaras ri and ga with dha held plain all along during the oscillation of other swaras. Ma is the sphuritha swaram of the raga. He then went on to explain the concept of jadu where one note is taken as centre for singing other notes like ga ma, ga dha etc. Only some notes could be adopted for this. Ravikiran also sang a few phrases bringing out the beauty of Shriranjani. Abhogi and Shriranjani combine to form Jayamanohari. Combinations of ni da sa are important in Jayamanohari . He sang the first lines of Thyagaraja's 'Nee bhakti bhagya sudha' to show how the essence of Jayamanohari had been captured in the opening lines of the song.

The third panelist for the evening V. Subramanyam emphasized the importance of lakshana in Carnatic Music and the necessity for manodharma to be within its parameters. There should be absolute blend within the two. While Abhogi offered medium scope for manodharma, Shriranjani could be expanded greatly. Only those who were well-versed could bring out the beauty of Jayamanohari. Subramanyam demonstrated the phrases, which had to be incorporated to bring out Jayamanohari clearly, and then rendered Thyagaraja's mArubalka in Shriranjani.

The convenor concluded the discussion by mentioning various compositions in the ragas.

The discussion was followed by a concert by S. Sowmya accompanied by R. K. Shriramkumar on the violin and P. Sathish Kumar on the mridangam. In tune with the discussions, Sowmya started off with the Abhogi varnam 'Evari bodhana', followed by 'Brochevarevare' in Shriranjani and 'Nee bhakti' in Jayamanohari. This was followed by a pallavi in Shriranjani.

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