Panchadasa Gamakas

Gamakas – Ornamentation of Carnatic Music

Gamakas are one of the primary/essential aspects of Manodharma Sangita which has 22 microtones or srutis. Every Raga has to be necessarily rendered with the appropriate Gamakas for the swaras, since swara is not a discrete note, but a scale degree and all its associated melodic movement, or Gamaka. Specific types of Gamakas depend on the manner of quivering or shaking, inter-swara transitory phrases and swara overtones.

Gamaka is much more than an ornament to Carnatic Music. It is a fundamental element of a raga. Gamaka provides motion and life to a swara and animates it.

“The moment a gamaka clothes the Swarasthana [note position in the octave], the latter is quickened into life. For the gamaka builds up a relationship with neighbouring members of the family [of swaras] to the right and to the left”.

(Ayyangar 1972:148)

The classic treatise on Indian music, “Sangita Ratnakara” defines fifteen variants of Gamakas

Panchadasa Gamakas – 15 Gamakas mentioned by Sārangadeva in Sangita Ratnakara

स्वरस्य कम्पो गमकः श्रोतृचित्तसुखावहः |
तस्य भेदास्तु तिरिपः स्फ़ुरितः कम्पितस्तथः ||
लीन आन्दोलित वलि त्रिभिन्न कुरुलाहताः |
उल्लासितः प्लावितस्च गुम्फ़ितो मुद्रितस्तथा ||
नामितो मिश्रितः पञ्चदशेति परिकीर्तिताः |

A short description of the 15 gamakas:

Tiripa Playing one of the notes of a phrase with some stress
Sphurita A janta swara phrase wherein the lower note in between each janta swara group is faintly heard. The second note of each janta is stressed
Kampita A shake. When one oscillates between two swaras while holding a particular swara, a kampita is achieved
Līna Merging of a note softly into another note
Andolita A free swinging. Holding on a note for some time and then pulling the string or gliding on it so as to reveal a higher note
Vaļi Producing the chhāyā of two or three notes from the same swarasthāna by deflecting the string in a circling manner (only in fretted instruments)
Tribhinna Produced by placing the left-hand fingers on a swarasthāna so that the fingers are in contact with three strings, and then by plucking the three strings with the right hand fingers either simultaneously or successively (only in fretted instruments)
Kurula This is the production from a swarasthāna, of the note of another sthāna with force
Ᾱhata Sounding a note and then producing another note without a separate stroke (only in vina)
Ullasita Jāru or glide

  • Etra jāru (ascending)
  • Irakka jāru (descending)

Starting on a note and reaching a different (higher or lower) note by gliding over the intermediate notes

Plāvita This is a variety of Kampita
Gumpita Belongs to vocal music. The tone is slender at the start and goes on increasing in both volume and pitch
Mudrita Belongs to vocal music. Produced by closing the mouth and singing
Nāmita Belongs to vocal music. Singing in a slender tone
Misrita Mixture of two or three of the other varieties
  • Violin Techniques in Western and South Indian Carnatic Music - Dr. M. Lalitha
  • Gamaka or graces of Music - Sri Parameswara Bhagavatar
  • Ornamentation in South Indian Classical Music - GordonSwift
  • Gamaka and Vadanabedha - Ranganayaki Veeraswami
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The Grandeur of Todi – II

[An article on the raga TODI by Satish]

The Grandeur of Todi – I


TODi is mentioned in all important musical works from the early period. This rAgam has been mentioned in Sa”ngIta ratnAkaram (13th century), rAgatara”giNi (14th century) of Locana Kavi, sa”ngIta samaya sAra (11th century) of PArasvadEva, rAga vibOdha (1609) of sOmanAtha, sa”ngIta sArAm.rta (1735) of TulAjA mahAraja, samgraha cUDAmaNi (18-19th century) of gOvindAcArya., etc. In the literature, one can find the names such as chAyA tODi, turuSka tODi, and so on.

Strangely, this rAgam does not find a place among the 19 prasiddha mEla scheme in VE”nkaTamakhin’s caturdaNDI prakAshika., whereas bhUpAlam is clearly mentioned. Muddu VE”nkaTamakhi refers to tODi as an “auttara rAgam” (that belongs to the northern region), and calls it “janatODi”.

SangIta SampradAya Pradarshini On tODi (asampUrNa paddhati)

SubbarAma DikSitar, in his encyclopedia, “SangIta SampradAya Pradarshini”, describes the lakSaNa details of tODi: a rAga”nga rAgam, sampUrNAm, SaDja grahjam, rakti rAgam, suitable for singing in the evening times. He further adds that this rAgam is packed with the best ra~njana among all the rakti rAgams.

As illustration, he provides the following compositions:

lakSya gItam
a rE rAjarAja gIta caritra, ,jhaMpa tALam (VE”nkaTamakhi)

ArE dAsharathE, dhruva tALam (pUrvikas – the ancients)

kamalAmbikE (dhyANa k.rti of the kamalAmbA navAvarana series), rUpaka tALam (muttusvAmi dIkSitar)
gAnalOla karuNalavALa , Adi tALam (cinnasvAmi dIkSitar)
gajavadana sammOdita, Adi tALam (MahArAja KumAra ETTEndra)

cauka varNam
rUpamu jUci, Adi tALam (muttusvAmi dIkSitar) – sometimes this is attributed to Ramasvami Dikshitar.

A rare svarasthAna varNam:
sarigAni dAni pAmarini, Adi tALam (RAmasvAmi DikSitar) – where the sAhityam employs only the seven letters sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni to coin appropriate telugu words for its lyric.

AdiyAramba kkalaviyalE, Adi tALam (KaTikai muKkuppulavar)
sa~ncAri , ragaNa maThya tAlam. (subbarAma dIkSItar)

The author then goes on to discuss three janyams, nAgavarALi, punnAgavarALi, and asAvEri.

HindusthAni system

The HindusthAni equivalent of tODI is the Bhairavi Thath. In the Hindusthani system, it is regarded as a morning rAga.  The HindusthAni tODi is NOT Carnatic tODi, but the equivalent melody  is shubhapantuvarali.

shuddha tODI
Sometimes the svaram “pa” is omitted, and the resulting tODi is known as shuddha tODi.  Examples are:
(i) pa~nca rAga svarajati of SvAti tirunAL  (the tODi segment of this piece omits “pa”, producing a pleasing effect)
(ii) the  gItam “ of the ancients, a rE dasaratharAja”  mentioned above.

dEshya tODi
This is a SADava-sampUrNa (6-7)  rAgam derived from tODi., with the note “ri” omitted in the ArOhaNam (scale: s g m p d n.s; .s n d p m g r s). This resembles very closely to the Bhairavi ThaTh of the Hindusthani system.  Some tODi compositions of TyAgarAja are sung in dEshya tODi. In fact, namO namO rAghavAya, reputed to be his first composition is rendered in it.

Todi in Films
The splendor of  tODi is glorified in a full length film by the name “tODI rAgam” with T. N. Seshagopalan as the hero and singer.  Several film songs are based on tODi melody. Balamuralikrishna’s rendition of the rAgamAlika “oru nAL pOdumA”  in the film TiruviLaiyADal, has the tODi line “ezuntODi varuvAyammA”, with the rAga mudra cleverly disguised in it.

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ராகம் – லட்சணமும் லட்சியமும்

இசை இறைவனால் வழங்கப்பட்ட அற்புதக் கலையாகும். இசையால் இசையாதார் யாரும் இல்லை. பூமியிலும் வானத்திலும் நிகழக்கூடிய விந்தைகளுக்கெல்லாம் விந்தையாகும் அற்புத விந்தை தான் இசை.

இறைவன் இன்றி எதுவும் இல்லை என்பது மகத்தான உண்மை. எங்கும் இசை, எதிலும் இசை. கடலின் காற்றோ, மழையின் சப்தமோ, மரங்களின் அசைவுகளோ, நடப்பன, பறப்பன, ஊர்வன, மிதப்பன என அணைத்து ஜீவராசிகளிலும் ஜீவனாக இருப்பது இசைதான்.

கர்நாடக இசை மிகப் பழமையான இசை. தெற்கு இந்தியாவில் தோன்றி இன்று உலகெங்கும் வழங்கப்படும் இசை. ஏழு ஸ்வரங்கள் கொண்ட அற்புத இசை. ஸ்ருதியினையும் லயத்தினையும் தனது இரண்டு கண்களாகக் கொண்டது. ராகத்தையும் தாளத்தையும் அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டது கர்நாடக இசை.

கர்நாடக இசையில் ஒவ்வொரு ராகத்திற்கும் லட்சணமும் லட்சியமும் உண்டு. இவை இரண்டும் ராகத்தின் உடலும் உயிருமாக ஒன்றி வருவன. ஒவ்வொரு ராகத்திற்கும் தனி விதிகள் உண்டு. ஒவ்வொரு ராகத்திற்கும் தனி சக்தி உண்டு. ராகத்தை வழங்கும்போது அதன் லட்சணம் பிழறாமல் லட்சியத்தை நிறைவேற்றும் விதத்தில் வழங்கினால் தான் இசை முழுமைபெறும். இசைப்பவரும் ரசிப்பவரும் இறைவனை சென்றடைய முடியும்.

ராக லட்சணம்

ராகம் என்பது ஸ்வரங்களைக் குறிக்குமா? அல்லது ஸ்ருதியா ? இல்லை அது ஒலிக்கும் விதமா?

ஸ்ருதியுடன் ஸ்வரங்களை இசைத்து, பாடலின் ரசத்தை ஒலி மூலம் மனதிற்கு உணர்த்தி, இறைவனை சென்றடைய வழி வகுக்கும் கருவி தான் ராகம். மகிழ்ச்சியான ராகம் ஒன்று சோகமாக ஒலிக்கக் கூடாது. மொழி அறியாதவர் கேட்டாலும் பாடலின் கருத்தை உணர முடியும் விதத்தில் அமைவதுவே ராகம்.

ராகத்தை வழங்குவதற்கு விதிகள் உண்டு. அதுதான் ராக லட்சணம். ராகத்திற்கு முதல் உருவம் தருவது அதன் ஆரோஹணமும் அவரோஹணமும். இவை ஸ்வரங்களின் ஏற்ற வரிசையையும் இறக்க வரிசையையும் குறிக்கும்.

உதாரணம்: மோஹன ராகத்திற்கு ஸ ரி க ப த ஸ் -  ஸ் த ப க ரி ஸ

இந்த வரையறைக்குள் பாடினால் தான் குறிப்பிட்ட ராகம் ஒலிக்கும்.

ஆரோஹணமும் அவரோஹணமும் சரியாக இருந்தால் மட்டும் ராகம் சரியாக அமையாது. சில நேரங்களில் ராகத்தை இசைக்கும் விதத்தில் கமகம் வேறுபட்டால் ராகமே வேறுபட்டுக் கேட்கும் – ஒரே ஆரோஹணமும் அவரோஹணமும் இருந்தாலும் கூட. ஸ்வரங்களின் பிரயோகமும் ராகத்தின் ஒலியில் மாற்றங்கள் தரும்.

தனது லட்சியத்தை அடைய ஒரு ராகத்தை இசைச்சிற்பமாகச் செதுக்கும் முறைதான் ராக லட்சணம்.

ராக லட்சியம்

ஒவ்வொரு ராகத்தை வழங்குவதற்கும் லட்சியம் உண்டு. இறைவனை சென்றடையும் லட்சியம். கவலைகளை மறக்கச்செய்து மன நிம்மதி தரும் லட்சியம். நோய் தீர்த்து வளம் தரும் லட்சியம்.

ராகங்களுக்கு மருத்துவ குணங்கள் உண்டு. 72 மேளகர்த்தா ராகங்களும் நம் உடலின் 72 முக்கிய நரம்புகள ஆதிக்கம் செய்யும் தன்மை கொண்டவை. ராகத்தின் லட்சணம் மாறாமல் தூய்மையாக இசைக்கும் ஒருவனால் குறிப்பிட்ட நரம்பின் செயல்களை ஆதிக்கம் செய்ய முடியும். மன நிம்மதி மட்டுமின்றி உடல் நலத்திற்கும் ராகங்கள் உதவும்.


நிலையாய் நில்லாது அலைபாயும் மனதிற்கு சாந்தம் கிடைக்கும். பக்தியுடன் இந்த ராகத்தை வழங்கினால் மனநிலை பாதிக்கப்பட்டவர்க்கு குணம் கிடைக்கும். “சங்கரனின் ஆபரணம்” – இந்த ராகம் செல்வம் தரும் ராகம்.


கல்யாணி என்றால் மங்களம் எனபது பொருள். நம் மனதில் தோன்றும் பயம் என்னும் இருளை நீக்கி ஒளி தரும் ராகம்.


இசைப்பவர் மற்றும் இசையைக் கேட்டு ரசிப்பவரின் அறிவினைக்  கூர்மைப்படுத்தும் திறன் கொண்ட ராகம் இது. மனதிற்கு வலிமையும் உயிருக்கு ஊட்டமும் தந்து சக்தி கொடுக்கும் ராகம்.  சிவபெருமானின் ஒளிவீசும் நெற்றிக்கண்ணிலிருந்து தோன்றிய ஷண்முகனுக்குப் பிடித்த ராகம்.


வலியினை நீக்கி அன்பென்ற மழையினைப் பொழியும் ராகம் இது. மனதிற்கும் உடம்பிற்கும் வளம் தரும் ராகம்.


இல்வாழ்க்கைக்கு வளம் சேர்க்கும் ராகம். வறுமையை நீக்கி இன்பம் தரும். இந்த ராகத்தின் ஸ்வரப் பிரயோகத்திற்கு தீய எண்ணங்களையும் செயல்களையும் மனதிலிருந்து நீக்கும் அதிசயத் திறன் உண்டு.


கவலைகள் நிறைந்து அமைதியை இழந்து தவிக்கும் மனதிற்கு அமைதியும் ஆறுதலும் தந்து குணமாக்கும் ராகம் இது.


அழகும் அன்பும் நிறைந்த இடத்தில இருப்பது மோஹனம். காமம், க்ரோதம், மோகம் போன்ற தீய எண்ணங்களை நீக்கி நன்மை தரும் ராகம். மிக அழகாக இசைக்கும் ராகம்.

மாயாமாளவ கௌளை

இசை பயிலும்போது முதன்முதலில் கற்கும் ராகம் இது. மாசினைத் தவிர்க்கும் ராகம். நம் உடம்பில் இருக்கும் தீய பொருட்களையும் மாசினையும் அகற்றும் ராகம். வைகறை நேரத்தில் இயற்கை வளம் கொண்ட சூழலில் இந்த ராகத்தை இசைத்தால் குரல் வளம் பெருகும்.

ஆனந்த பைரவி

கேட்பவர் மனதிற்கும் உடலுக்கும் நிம்மதி தரும் ராகம். இரத்த அழுத்தம் அதிகம் இருப்பவர் இந்த ராகத்தை இசைத்தால் குணம் கிடைக்கும்.

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Articulation, Vibrato and Gamakas on Violin

Violin - a primary accompanying instrument in Carnatic Music

Violin - a primary accompanying instrument in Carnatic Music

Articulation refers to the different bowing gestures on the violin. In the middle of a long, sustained note, each vibration of the violin string is nearly identical to the one that preceded it. The violin is said to be in a steady state. Of greater importance are differences in violin sounds coming from the transients: the short lived effects at the beginning and end of each note. These are achieved by different articulations or bowing styles.

In western terminologies, some common articulation techniques include:
  • Col legno
[col legno battuto] – is an instruction to strike the string with the stick of the bow, rather than by drawing the hair of the bow across the strings
  • Collé
The lower part of the bow (which can exert more force) strikes the string rapidly. The sound builds up rapidly at the start of each note, and then slows smoothly.
  • Pizzicato
Playing technique that involves plucking the strings of a string instrument, rather than using the bow. The sound is short and percussive, rather than being sustained.
  • Spiccato
The bow is held a short distance above the string and allowed to bounce, resulting in a series of short, distinct notes.
  • Sul ponticello
An indication to bow (or sometimes to pluck) very near to the bridge, producing a glassy sound, which emphasizes the higher harmonics at the expense of the fundamental.
  • Sul tasto
An indication to bow (or sometimes to pluck) over the fingerboard; the opposite of sul ponticello. Playing over the fingerboard produces a warmer, gentler tone.
  • Tremolo
A rapid repetition of the same note or an alternation between two or more performed with the bow by rapidly moving the bow while the arm is tense.
  • Glissando
It is a glide from one pitch to another.

The regular rocking backwards and forwards of the finger on the left hand that stops the string changes the length of the string (and also, slightly, the tension). This causes a cyclical variation in pitch, producing a vibrato.

In its truest sense, every technique mentioned above has been used by violinists in Carnatic music. But of utmost importance is the glissando. It is the glissando that produces the gamakas. Continuous glissando [portamento] is the technique of gliding over a substantial range, and is possible only in unfretted instruments like the violin and stringed instruments with a way of stretching the strings, such as the veena and the sitar.

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The Grandeur of Todi – I

[An article on the raga TODI by Satish]

Over the course of random discussions with a friend, I realised that one rAga that truly typifies Carnatic music is TODI, a profound, delightful and soothing melody. It is the 8th meLam both in the sampUrNa, and the asaMpUrNa schemes of the Carnatic music tradition. The precise name is hanumatODi in the sampUrNa paddhati, and the prefix “hanuma” is inserted to yield the meLam number 8, according to the kaTapayAdi nomenclature ((ha = 8, na =0, so hanu= 80, which when reversed gives 08). According to the asaMpUrNa scheme of VE”nkaTamakhi (a tradition faithfully followed by the dIkSItar school), tODi is the eighth  rAga”nga rAgam, known as  janatODi (again, the prefix “jana” yields the number 8 according to the “kaTapayAdi” counting, since  ja = 8, na =0).

lakSaNam (VE”nkaTamakhi):
tODiH SaDjagrahaH pUrNaH
sAyaMkAlE pragIyatE |

MELam hanumatODi / janatODi is the second mELam  belonging to the second cakram (nEtra cakram), hence it is referred to as “nEtra —  shrI”, with the mnemonic phrase    ri ga ma dha ni  or  R1 G2 M1 D1 N2.

s r g m p d n .s

.s n d p m g r s

The notes taken are: SaDjam, shuddha riSabham, sadhAraNa gAndhAram, suddha madhymam, pa~ncamam, shuddha dhaivatam and kaishiki nishAdam.

Salient Features

A mELam with a symmetrical ArOhaNam and avarOhaNam. The tetra-chords are symmetrical, and separated by an interval of a major tone, dvishruti between S –R1 and P – D1; trishruti between G2 – M1 and N2 — S; catushruti interval  between R1 – G2  and D1 –N2.  It is this elegance that imparts beauty to this rAgam.

JIva svarams:           all svarams
chAyA svarams:        ga, ma, dha
aMsha svarams :       ma, pa
nyAsa svarams:        ga, ma, pa, dha, ni

It is a tristAyi and sarvasvara gamaka vArikA rAgam. This essentially means that gamakas are the life of tODi.

JhaNTa svara and dhATu svara prayOgams make this rAga sparkle;  prayOgams omitting pa, sa add beauty (this is a rather interesting attribute, because tOdi retains its flavour and is distinctly identifiable, provided it is handled correctly, even in the absence of these svarams);  Some vishESa prayOgams are : d r .s D  and .r .s D.

Compositions in tODi commence usually in the notes sa, ga, ma pa, dha, ni.

This is a  rAga from which supreme melody emanates, a sarva svara ra~njaka rAgam. Majestic vibrations and the meandering of the gamakams, laden with bhAva characterize the melodic identity of tODi. All svarams except madhyamam admit oscillation; The notes ga and dha constitute the nuclei of the melodic network of tODi; the un-oscillated ma acts as a balancing link between the pUrvA”ngam and uttarA”ngam.

As a  rAga with tremendous scope for elaboration, tODi is usually featured as a main item, or in the rAgam tAnam pallavi expositions in concerts.  Being a ghana rAgam, it enjoys pride of place in every concert, and lends itself to all types of compositions.
graha bhEdam

TODi is a sarva svara mUrcchanakAraka mELam, in the sense that all notes except pa~ncamam admit graha bhEdam to yield new mElams. The process of model shift of tonic (graha bhEdam) produces

kalyANi  (65) Ri mUrcchana
harikAmbhOdhi (28) Ga mUrcchana
naTabhairavi (20) Ma mUrcchana
sha”nkarAbharaNam (29) dha mUrcchana
kharaharapriya (22) ni mUrcchana

TODi is believed to have originated from the rSabha mUrcchana of the SaDja grAmam.
It evokes bhakti and karuNa rasam. It is no wonder that numerous devotional songs are based on the soothing tODi, and some of its janyams. TODi is usually featured in the operas and dance dramas.

[More about tODi in future articles]

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Peace and Prosperity with Ragas – Part VI

[This series of six posts are excerpts from my Guru, violin maestro (late) Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's interview with 'The Hindu'. The therapeutic effect of music has been elucidated]


Mohanam is present where beauty and love coexist. Mohanam is a mellifluous ragam. It filters out the ill-effects of Kamam, Krodham and Moham bestowing immense benefits on the seeker. ‘Rama ninnu nammina’ by Tyagaraja, ‘Gopika manoharam nagalingam namami’ by Muthuswamy Dikshitar, ‘Mayil Vahana’, ‘Kapali’ by Papanasam Sivan and ‘Ramanai Kannara Kandena’ by Arunachala Kavirayar are some of the melodious compositions often heard.

In cinema, ‘Giridhara Gopala’ in “Meera” sung by M.S., ‘Aaga Inba Nilavinile’ in “Mayabazar”, ‘Thillayambala Nataraja’ in “Sowbagyavathi”, ‘Malargal nanaindana paniyale’ in “Idhayakamalam”, ‘Ninnu Kori Varnam’ in “Agni Nakshatram”, ‘Andanal mudal indanal varai’ in “Pavamannippu”, ‘Pazhaga theriya venum’ in “Missiyamma” and ‘Thiruchendoorin kadalorathil’ in “Deivam” are some of the super hit songs set in Mohanam.


‘Maya Malava Gowlai’ counters pollution. It can be called the gateway to Carnatic music. Sarali varisai, Jantai varisai, Keezh sthayi varisai, Melsthayi varisai, Alankaram, Geetham, Varnam, Keerthanam, Ragam, Thanam, Pallavi, Kalpanaswarangal and Neraval form the base of Carnatic music learning. The history of Carnatic music says that the system of Mayamalava Gowlai was introduced by the blessed musician, Purandaradasar. This raga has the potency to neutralise the toxins in our body. Practising this raga in the early hours of the morning, in the midst of nature, will enhance the strength of the vocal chords. Music composers of the south have used this raga to sweet effect. ‘Madura marikozhundhu vasam’ is a popular village folk song in Mayamalava Gowlai.

« Part 5

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Peace and Prosperity with Ragas – Part V

[This series of six posts are excerpts from my Guru, violin maestro (late) Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's interview with 'The Hindu'. The therapeutic effect of music has been elucidated]


My father was the guiding force in my research studies. When he was ill he had more faith in the curative power of  music than the medicines administered to him. I was once preparing to show the remedial power of Ananda Bhairavi. Kannadasan had challenged in public to test his blood pressure after hearing Ananda Bhairavi from my violin.

He had promised to preside over a function but became ill with hypertension. Cajoled by the organisers he reluctantly came  and to my utter surprise requested me to render any raga, which could soothe him. I played Ananda Bhairavi elaborately.

At the close of the concert, Kannadasan came up to the dais and announced that he was feeling much better. Ananda Bhairavi has such soothing effect. Saint Tyagaraja in ‘O, Jagadambha’ prays for the deity’s blessing.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar underlines the importance of concentration and focus in `Manasa guru guha kripam bajare; Maya mama hrith thapam thyajare’ indicating Ananda Bhairavi’s close link to matters of the heart.

Tamil Odhuvar Moorthigal generally use Ananda Bhairavi in rendering Thevaram, Thiruvachakam and Dhivya Prabantham in temples.


The suppression of the senses releases a negative force. The process of sublimation needs a spiritual path. Rag Desh can provide that. Its positive energy gives one serenity, peace, inner joy, right valour, universal love and patriotism.

The mellifluous ‘Vande Matharam’ has been aptly composed in Desh. ‘Vaishnava Janatho,’ Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite, is set in Desh, which is a favourite in both Carnatic and Hindustani streams of music.

‘Shanthi nilava vendum,’ ‘Inda ulagil irukkum mandaril ezhil udayon engal tamizhan’ (M.M. Mariyappa for the film “Kanjan”), ‘Leelaigal purivane’ in the film “Meera,” ‘Thunbam nergayil’ in “Or Iravu,” ‘Maadu meykum kanna’ sung by Madurai Somu, ‘Muthamizhil Pada Vanden’ — that I composed for “Mel Nattu Marumagal” are well known examples in Desh.

« Part 4

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Peace and Prosperity with Ragas – Part IV

[This series of six posts are excerpts from my Guru, violin maestro (late) Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's interview with 'The Hindu'. The therapeutic effect of music has been elucidated]


Once upon a time it was considered a sacrilege to use Carnatic music ragas to compose film songs. This in spite of the fact that artistes were chosen only based on their training in classical music. Stories were narrated mainly through dance and music. Thus Carnatic singers made an entry into cinema and became quite popular. Carnatic ragas were adapted with telling effect. One of them was Aaberi. Almost all the songs set in Aaberi were super hits. `Nagumomu’ of saint Tyagaraja is still a popular choice of Carnatic lovers. Mysore Vasudevachar has presented `Bajare manasa’ in the same raga. Both ragam and the lyrics are bound to give a healing touch to the perturbed mind. ‘Singaravelane Deva’ (“Konjum Salangai”), ‘Vaarayo Vennilave’ (“Missiyamma”), ‘Amaidhi Illada Maname’ (“Pathala Bhairavi”), ‘Malarndum Malarada’ (“Pasamalar”), ‘Kannodu Kanbadellam’ in “Jeans” and ‘Gomatha Engal Kulamatha’ (“Saraswathi Sabatham”) are some of the enchanting songs set in Aaberi. I have a special love for Aaberi because ‘Thiruparang-kundrathil nee sirithal’ was a curtain raiser to my cinema entry!


The raga rejuvenates the mind helping one to age gracefully. It enlivens the singer and the hearer. The success of the song, `Manmatha leelayai’ sung by MKT confirms Charukesi’s poetic and phonetic vitality. `Adamodi kalathe’ by Tyagabrahmam. `Kripaya palaya’ by Swathi Thirunal are noted for their aesthetic values. `Aadal Kaaneero’ in “Madurai Veeran,” `Vasanthamullai pole,’ `Adal Kalaye Devan Thandadu’ in the film Sri Ragavendra, `Unakkum Enakkum Isaindha Porutham’ (of Ramalinga Adigal) are some of the hit songs in Charukesi.

« Part 3

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Peace and Prosperity with Ragas – Part III

[This series of six posts are excerpts from my Guru, violin maestro (late) Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's interview with 'The Hindu'. The therapeutic effect of music has been elucidated]


Kalyani dispels the darkness of fear. It gives motherly comfort and increases confidence. Kalyani means Mangalam. Recited with faith and devotion, the raga is believed to clinch marriage alliances. There are many authentic reports about the raga’s power to destroy fear which takes many forms, fear of poverty, of love, of power, of ill health, of death and so on. The great Tamil poet, Muthuthandavar sang “Chidambaram Ena En Manam Maghzinthida Japam Cheyya, Kodiya Janana Maranam Ozhinthidum” in Kalyani. Tyagaraja, unmoved by the request of the King of Thanjavur to compose a song in his praise, instead sang ‘Nidhi chala sukama, Ramuni sannidhi seva sugama’ in Kalyani. The raga bhava suits its emotional keerthana bhava. Shyama Sastri in ‘Himadrisude Pahimam’ appeals to Devi for a continuous flow of energy. Muthuswami Dikshithar has given a treasure in the Kamalambal navavarnam which acts as a shield, protecting one from the ill effects of planetary movement. In those days, Kalyani was very popular in the film industry. Pakshi Raja Films produced a film, “Kannika”, for which Papanasam Sivan wrote ‘Sundareswarane’, a super hit. I tuned a devotional song, ‘Kaatchi Thanthu Ennai Aatchi Seyvai Amma’, in the raga. ‘Chindanai Sey Maname’ and ‘Mannavan Vandanadi’ are some of the famous songs in Kalyani.


Karaharapriya is an excellent remedy for worry, distress and neurotic disorders. Tyagayya dissolves himself in the raga as he sings “Chakkaniraja.” ‘When the royal road is available with all the comfort, why do you opt for dreaded lanes and bylanes’ asks the saint.

Another Karaharapriya song ‘Mithri Bagyame’ counts the blessings of Sita and Lakshmana for being lucky enough to be nearer to Rama for his beck and call, and longs for the same proximity. Muthuthandavar sang in ecstasy, “Maayaviddhai Seigiraane Ambalavanan.” Many music composers have used Karaharapriya in their films to convey sentiments. Rajeshwara Rao used it to express the lovers’ mood in the song `Ariya Parumavada Madana.’ Earlier, ‘Bagavan Avatharippar’ composed by S. M. Subbaiah Naidu for the film “Valmiki” was also a hit. Another superhit is ‘Madhavi Ponmayilal.’ For “Agathiyar,” I composed ‘Esayay Tamizhay Iruppavane.’

« Part II

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Peace and Prosperity with Ragas – Part II

[This series of six posts are excerpts from my Guru, violin maestro (late) Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's interview with 'The Hindu'. The therapeutic effect of music has been elucidated]


Shanmugapriya has the effect of sharpening the intellect of the singer as well that of the listener. It instills courage in one’s mind and replenishes the energy in the body. This is not surprising. Shanmugapriya being the beloved raga of Shanmuga, who was born out of the blazing wisdom-eye of Shiva. I would attribute the success and prosperity I have attained in life to the constant chanting of Shanmuga stothrams in the Murugan temple of Kunnakkudy. “Parvathi nayakane,” “Saravanabhava Ennum Thirumanthiram” of Papanasam Sivan are known for their sparkling verses. Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavathar’s “Vallinayakane” is another example. Shanmugapriya was beautifully used to make the song “Maraindirundu Paarkum” in the classic “Thillana Mohanambal” immortal.


The power of Sankarabaranam is incredible. It cures mental illness, soothes the turbulent mind and restores peace and harmony. Sankarabaranam, if rendered with total devotion for a stipulated period, can cure mental disorders said to be beyond thescope of medical treatment. Arunachala Kavirayar, Muthuthandavar, Suddhananda Bharathi, Marimutha Pillai and Mayooram Vedanayakam Pillai, have rendered many sweet compositions in the raga. Sankarabaranam has the power to shower wealth. Papanasam Sivan’s `Mahalakshmi Jaganmatha’ is a gem in this raga. Muthuswamy Dikshithar equates Sankarabaranam with `Akshayapathram,’ which supplies endless bounty in all forms. `Akshaya Linga Vibo’ composed by him is a popular kriti.

« Part 1

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