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Peace and prosperity with ragas

The therapeutic effect of music is widely discussed. Violin exponent Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan highlights the qualities of a few ragas.



Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan

BHILAHARI IS associated with love. `Naajeevadara' of Tyagaraja in this raga has always been popular. The saint, it is said, composed this in order to alleviate the acute stomach pain a man was suffering from. His prayer was answered and the man had relief. `Krishnaleela Tarangini' of Narayana Tirtha has the song `Poorayamamakamam' in Bhilahari. The saint cries out, "Hey! Gopala, bestow me with all the goodness so that I can continue to sing your praise." This Bhilahari song ensures one vigour and good health.

In "Konjum Salangai" Ramalinga Adigalar's bakthi verses `Orumayudan Unadhu' set in Bhilahari and rendered by Sulamangalam Rajalakshmi was a popular hit. Another popular song is `Unnai Kandu Naan Ada Ennai Kandu Nee Aada' from "Kalyanaparisu." "Thalaiva Thavapudhalva," the song I composed for the film "Agathiyar" was set in this raga. The Hindi song "Korakagaz" ("Aradhana") owes its melody to the charm of Bhilahari.

Rathipathipriya

Rathipathipriya adds strength and vigour to a happy wedded life. This five-swara raga has the power to eliminate poverty. The very prayoga of the swaras can wipe off the vibrations of bitter feelings emitted by ill wills. `Jagajanani Sukavani Kalyani' composed by M. M. Dhandapani Desikar is a very popular song in this raga. Singing or listening to Rathipathipriya bestows on one happiness and has a stimulating effect.

Shanmugapriya

Shanmugapriya has the effect of sharpening the intellect of the singer as well that of the listener. It instils 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 Parkum" in the classic "Thillana Mohanambal" immortal.

Kalyani

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

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.'

Aaberi

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!

Sankarabaranam

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 the scope 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.

Charukesi

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.

Mohanam

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.

Desh

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.

Maya Malava Gowlai

`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.

Ananda Bhairavi

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.

To sum up, every raga is pleasant and purposeful. Each has its own character and power. Sincerely pursued and practised they are sure to confer benefits on the singer and the listener.

(Compiled by V. Ramakrishna)

About the Research Centre

RAGA Research Centre (24661914/24333330), has been functioning for 12 years with financial aid from the Tamil Nadu Government.

The Centre, headed by Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan, has two panels, one has musicians and the other comprises non-musicians.

Here music is analysed in the context of Vedham, sanga Tamil music, astrology, psychiatry, physics, bio-chemistry and so on. The clue to take a particular raga for research is from the compositions of the Carnatic music trinity and then they go backwards looking for its source, who gave it the name or how it was derived, the power of each swara in the raga and so on.

Each Raga has a face and form and it is known as Ragadevatai.

Peasants in the fields used to sing to relax and to forget the tiredness. Most of the folk songs are in ragas like Anandabhairavi, Kedaram, Neelambari, Kurinji, etc. Like in the case of any other form of therapy faith is important for music therapy also.

For instance Anandabhairavi, a Janya of Natabhairavi, was chosen from Muthuswami Dikshitar's kriti ``Maanasa Guruguha Roopam Bhajare," ``Maayamaya Hrttaapam Tyajare" where the `Hrt' means heart. So it was used to help people suffering from hypertension.

Why is there an antaragandharam in the descending scale? That is the surprise element in this raga. The swara combination of this raga lends happiness and peace to the mind and thus reduces tension and hypertension. It can also help one work with better focus and concentration. In this context, Sankarabharabaranam was chosen and an example is Thyagaraja's ``Manasuswadhinamaina."

Psychologist Dr. Gowtham says that playing the recording of this raga comforts the mentally afflicted patients. Bhilahari helps to cure stomach problems.

Kunnakkudi claims that he had played some of these ragas in front of a panel of doctors in New Delhi and proved their efficacy.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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