Vid Dev

Musings of a music student


harikesanallur muthiah bagavathar

Niroshta – Ragapedia 8

Niroshta is a relatively new age ragam, with a pentatonic scale. What is unique though, it doesn’t have either PA or MA as a part. How does it matter? It does because if you cannot smack your lips in between your singing for a long time, you might end up drooling.

The name of the raga roughly means “without the lips” and it follows the parent raga Sankarabharanam. Hence the scale would be:

Aarohanam – S R2 G3 D2 N3 S

Avarohanam – S N3 D2 G3 R2 S

Carnatic Compositions

Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar invented Niroshta (sans P and M) and composed a song, Raja raja radhithe. The speciality of the song is, even its lyrics with no bilabial syllable in it (i.e) udhadugal ottadhu; and it has a crisp chittaswaram to add to the beauty of the composition. It is said that he composed this song when the Mysore Maharaja was unwell with swollen lips!

There is another interesting theory I read in Rasika forums, and I quote, “The word sin or papa comes from the first sound of the pa-group repeated twice. The sounds in the pa-group are called papa-pankti and avoiding these sounds is Niroshta. Avoiding papa-pankti is indicative of reminding ourselves that we are trying to avoid the papa and punya for the good of our extended self.”

Here is my attempt at singing the song.

There is a thillana in the same raga, composed and rendered by the genius TN Seshagopalan.

Use in Movies

Though there are no movie songs in Niroshta, the song Raja Raja Radhithe has been used in the Malayalam movie Ananda Bhairavi. I wonder at the Malayalam music directors who aptly place such unusual Carnatic compositions in their movies. Another such instance I quoted in my post for Andolika.

Related Ragas

When I was reading about Niroshta, I found that there is a similar raga called Banupriya with the swaras in the scale the same as Niroshta. There is a composition by Aalathoor Vijayakumar in Banupriya, called Banupriyasani. (I am writing this here, because I don’t know much about this ragam to make a separate post). The flow of the song sounds a lot like Ganamurthi.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Karnaranjani – Ragapedia 6

Karnaranjani’s (Karaharapriya janyam) unique identifier is its phrase “SRGMGP” and hence the scale is thus,

Aarohanam: S R2 G2 M1 G2 P D2 S

Avarohanam: S N2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S

The ragam was a creation of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar, and he has aptly named it Karnaranjani which literally means “pleasant to the ears”.

Carnatic Compositions

  • Vanchathonuna by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar, the man who invented the raga itself
  • Om Namo Narayana by Ambujam Krishna
  • Deena Sharanyane by Nila Ramamurthi, daughter of Papanasam Sivan
  • Thillana by Lalgudi Jayaraman

Listen to a beautiful verse in Nachiyar Thirumozhi set in the ragam Karnaranjani (tuned by Devanathan).

Also listen to Seshagopalan singing a pasuram “Kulam Tharum” of Periyazhwar followed by Kamba Ramayanam verses in this raga, as a part of a 12 hour concert he did in January 2001 on Vaikunta Ekadesi in Ayodhya Mandapam (according to the below link). What is interesting is, even the group chanting at the end of this song is done in the raga.

Use in Movies

I was not able to find any tamizh movie song in Karnaranjani, but this Malayalam song “Harnakshi Janamoule” from the movie Kaliyachan is…

I have my own doubts about “Theertha Karai Thanile” from Thai Pongal being Karnaranjani, because it doesn’t use “SRGMGP” as clearly as the above Malayalam song.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Andolika – Ragapedia 2

The raga Andolika is a janyam of Karaharapriya with the scale as below. It is a creation of Thyagaraja and also goes by the name Mayuradhwani.

Aarohanam – S R2 M1 P N2 S

Avarohanam – S N2 D2 M1 R2 S

Andolika vs Mayuradhvani

The raga’s evolution seems to have two possibilities, and either or both could have happened in course of time.

1) Andolika was previously called Mayuradhvani – Here is Kittappa’s rendition of “Raga Sudha Rasa” which sounds exactly like how we sing today, and the record has Mayuradhvani written on it (look at the image on the video).

2) Raga Sudha Rasa is mapped to Mayuradhvani in the Thyagaraja literature – meaning it was sung in Mayuradhvani and somehow came to be sung in Andolika in the recent past.

Karnatik has a list of janya ragas where Mayuradhvani is featured 4 times with different scales, one of it being the same as Andolika, which doesn’t really help drawing a conclusion either.

Carnatic Compositions

  • Raga Sudha Rasa by Thyagaraja
  • Sevikka Vendum Ayya by Muthuthandavar (said to have been tuned to Andolika most likely in the later part of this century; obviously the ragam wouldn’t have been in vogue in 1600s when Muthuthandavar lived.)
  • Mahishasura Mardhini (varnam) and Vajreshi Maathe by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar
  • Nee Dayaradha (varnam) by GN Balasubramaniam

Listen to a rendition of Raga Sudha Rasa, a classic krithi in the raga, below.

Also listen to the Muthiah Bagavathar varnam sung by Professor K. Venkatraman, a disciple of Nellai Krishnamurthy, who in turn learnt from Muthiah Bagavathar himself.

Use in movies

We are again talking about Raga Sudha Rasa, in this section, because I am not able to find any other movie song even vaguely influenced by it. The song features in the movie Sargam (Malayalam) / Sarigamalu (Telugu) and is sung by Yesudas and Chitra. There is a swara dialogue between Vineeth and Ramba at the end of the song that highlights phrases from the raga. Below is the link for the song from Sarigamalu.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar

Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar (1877 – 1945) was a 20th century carnatic music composer, and a ra’ga creator. Let us call him HMB for ease from now on.

HMB learnt from Padinaindumandapa Sambasiva Iyer for 9 years and made his name as a Harikata Vidhwan. (harikatha is an art of story telling infused with music) He was also adept at playing the chitra veena and mridangam.


He had to his credit almost 400 musical compositions, the largest among the post-Trinity composers, that included many different types of Varnams as well as Kritis and Thillanas.  His inventions included ragas such as  Vijaysaraswathi, Karnaranjani, Mohana Kalyani, Niroshta, in which the trademark songs were “charanam vijaya saraswathi”, “vanchathonuna”, “bhuvaneshwaria”, “raja raja radhite”.

The famous English notes made popular by Madurai Mani Iyer was actually written by HMB himself. Though the Trinity composed many nottuswarams in their period, this is the one that first comes to our mind.

Until the invention of Niroshta, all the audava ragas (with  notes per scale) had at least PA or MA in its grammer. This raga is sans PA and MA, the only two swaras which are pronounced by closed lips (bilabial). Leave it to the genius of HMB to also compose a song whose lyrics are devoid of bilabial sounds.

Listen to… TN Seshagopalan singing mathe malayadhwaja, a dharu varnam in raga Khamas. A speciality in the last chitta swaram of this varnam is it is fully a swaraksharam (same syllables denote swara and lyric) praising the Goddess. Also to be noted is that TNS was the disciple of Sankara Sivam, who in turn was the disciple of HNB.

Mudhra Harikesa after his birth place

Disciples include Sankara Sivam (as mentioned above), Madurai Mani Iyer. HNB also opened a music school called the Tyagaraja Sangita Vidyalaya in Madurai in 1920 on the lines of a gurukulam.

Until next,

Vid 🙂


After Nattakurinji, for a fitting finale, I could not have chosen anything better than Mohanam. One will have the feeling of having lived life King size after listening to this raga; it is that grand and fulfilling.

Mohanam belongs to the family of Harikamboji with 5 swaras in scale – S R2 G3 P D2 S / S D2 P G3 R2 S

Mohanam is the oldest ragam known to mankind, according to Dr. S. Ramanathan’s doctoral dissertation. It can be sung in any phase of the concert, proving to be the all-time raga that it is. Also called as Bhoop / Bhoopali in hindustani, this raga is used to denote bravery; it is used in Chinese, Japanese and Swedish music it seems.

A favourite of trinity and contemporary composers alike, mohanam holds a lot of kritis to its credit:

  • Thyagaraja’s Bhavanuta, Dhayaranee, Mohana Rama, Nannupalimpa, Evarura Ninnuvina …
  • Dikshitar’s Rajagopalam, Narasimha Aagacha, Gopika Manoharam (by Ambi Dikshitar) …
  • Papanasam Sivan’s Kapali …
  • Annamayya’s Cheri Yashodhaku …
  • Arunachala Kavi’s Yen Palli Kondeerayya …
  • Oothukkadu’s Swagatham Krishna …
  • GNB’s Sada Palaya (Sa Da Pa are the same notes) …
  • Maanikka Veenai Endhum from unknown composer …

For a complete understanding and enjoyment of Mohanam, please listen to this blend of instruments by Lalgudi Jayaraman, Ramani and Venkatraman – playing violin, flute and veena respectively. (performed in 1967)

Below is a rendition of a Thillana in Mohanam raga, a composition of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar.

Some very interesting compositions from the myriad of movie songs I had to choose from are:

  • Aaha Inba Nilavinile from Maaya Bazaar
  • Pazhaga Theriya Venum from Missiyamma (writing this suppressing the feminist in me!)
  • Giridhara Gopala from Meera
  • Paadumbodhu Naan Thendral Kaatru from Netru Indru Naalai
  • Ninnukori Varnam from Agni Natchathiram
  • Kanmaniye Kaadhal Enbadhu from 6 ilirundhu 60 varai
  • Vaan Pole Vannam from Salangai Oli
  • Porale Ponnuthayi from Karuthamma (influence)
  • Pakkadhe Pakkadhe from Gentleman
  • The Chinese song in 7am Arivu …

In the striking voice of Ghantasala and P. Leela, Aaha Inba Nilavinile…

A special thanks to dad (for equipping me with most of the knowledge that I have said and teaching and singing along in all the recordings), (main reference) and to everyone else for your encouragement.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

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