Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan

– Sumithra Vasudev

In this article, which is the second in the series on the Melaragamalika of Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan, let us focus on the lyrical features of this masterpiece.

As mentioned in the September issue of Sruti, the language employed in this ragamalika is Sanskrit. The sahitya for each raga section extends to two avartas of Adi tala. The name of each of the 72 melakarta ragas is embedded very skillfully and beautifully in the respective sahitya portions.

The lyrical features and excellences in this composition can be studied with reference to two fundamental aspects of sahitya – namely sabda or word, and artha or meaning, and sometimes as a combination of both.

Let us first take up the sabda aspect. Among the embellishments or alankaras of sabda that are commonly used in our musical literature, prasa (also commonly referred to as dviteeyakshara prasa), and antyaprasa (denoting the repetition of specific letters at particular intervals of the sahitya portions) are extensively employed. Apart from enhancing the verbal aesthetic, they help in the blending of sahitya and melody apart from showcasing the skill of the author-composer and his mastery over the language. In Sanskrit literature, there is anuprasa which also involves repetition of letters, but there is no rigid regulation for the repetition… read more