THE MAHA MELARAGAMALIKA (PART 3)

Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan

– Sumithra Vasudev

In the third and concluding part of this series on the monumental composition of Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan, let us look into some of the aspects of the melody of this ragamalika. In the first two articles on the melaragamalika, we analysed the structural and lyrical features of the composition.

With regard to melody, we will primarily discuss the manner in which the ragas have been delineated and handled in the ragamalika. While deliberatingon this aspect it must be borne in mind that this ragamalika comprises the 72 melakarta ragas where, the raga of each section in a given chakra will have only one or two swaras in the higher tetrachord (or uttaranga) which are different from its preceding and succeeding ragas, while the lower tetrachord (or poorvanga) remains the same. In the case of vivadi swara based chakras, namely, the first, sixth, seventh and twelfth, all the six ragas will have the vivadi swara in the poorvanga. Melodically it is very difficult to make such a combination of ragas sound pleasant, but this has been accomplished very beautifully by Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan.

The melakarta ragas may be categorised in many ways. For the present study we will take one categorisation as ragas with vivadi swara combinations like Kanakangi, Roopavati; and ragas without vivadi swara combinations like Charukesi, Latangi. Another manner of looking at them could be as ragas that have developed over time in such a way that apart from the aroha-avaroha krama they have phrases or prayogas that are characteristic to them (for example, Dheera Sankarabharanam, Hanumatodi); and ragas that are mostly dependent on the aroha-avaroha krama (for example, Gangeyabhooshani, Dharmavati). Based on these two categories, let us look at how the ragas have been delineated in the sahitya portions, the swara portions and in the connecting swara portions of the ragamalika… read more