Eka Raga Kritis in Carnatic Music
Creative genius of the many vaggeyakaras (musician-composer) in Karnatic music is amazing- especially amongst the Trinity composers like Shyama Sastri, Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar. Notably, Tyagaraja’s greatness as a composer is reflected not only by the voluminous number of compositions but also many kritis set in uncommon ragas, several of them are his own creations. Tyagaraja is one of the vaggeyakaras, whose has composed maximum number of kritis in rare and uncommon ragas. These are the only kritis in these rare and uncommon ragas. They are called eka-raga kritis. These eka-raga kritis of Tyagaraja are the main source for us to recognize sancharas of these rare ragas. The number of his eka-raga kritis would be more than 40 or so.
Quite a number of eka raga kritis of Muthuswami Dikshitar are also set in rather uncommon ragas, which will run into about 20 or so. Shyama Sastri is credited to have composed a kriti in a new raga-Chintamani, which was developed extempore during a formal setting with Bobbili Keshavaiah. His eka raga kritis in Kalgada, Karnataka Kapi, Manji are well known. This write-up tries to highlight contributions of some composers and does not intend to be exhaustive.
Post Trinity composers have also been successful in creating new ragas and composing kritis in them. Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s popular kriti- Raghuvamsha sudha in Kadanakutuhalam (Janya of Shankarabharanam) was his creation and that was a new raga at that time. A kriti in raga, Sindhu mandari by him is another eka-raga kriti. Ramanathapuram (Poochi) Srinivasa Iyengar has created a raga –Suraranjani (janya of Shankarabharanam) and composed a kriti –Raghunatha nannu. An eka-raga kriti, Jagatjanani in raga, Rati-pathipriya comes from the creative mind of Ghanam Krishnaiyer. Munuganti Venkata Rao Pantulu’s Neeve gati Bhavanipati in raga Pravrutti and Patrayani Seetharamaiah’s Iha para sadhaname in raga Smruti ranjani are also eka-raga kritis.
A few of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar’s kritis are set in rare ragas like Nagabhushani, Valaji, Niroshta, Gaudamalhar,Guharanjani, Sarangamalhar, Vijayanagari, Hamsagamani, Karna ranjani, Budhamanohari, Pashupatipriya etc. It is possible that some of these ragas were known earlier, but Muthiah Bhagavatar gave a definite shape to these ragas in his kritis. Mysore Vasudevachar’s kritis in Sunadavinodhini , Budharanjani and Megharanjani represent eka raga kritis. Pallavi Seshayyar’s composition Entha ni vina in raga Urmika is an eka raga kriti. Inta bharamu in Srimanoranjani is an eka-raga kriti, which was a creation of N.S.Ramachandran.
Mysore Maharajah, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar has composed kritis in a few uncommon ragas like Bhogavasantham, Durvanki, Nagadhwani, Nadabrahma etc. G.N.Balasubramanian created new ragas like Amrutabehag, Shivashakti, Chandrahasitam, Samakadambari, Chayaranjani, Sarangatarangini and composed kritis in them.
Normally, a raga with 5 swaras is pleasing to listen. But Balamurali Krishna has been responsible for creating new ragas like Mahati, Sumukham, Lavangi etc,with only four swaras. These ragas pose challenge for a musician and need special skills to render them.
A few compositions of Veena
Shivaramaiah have only three swaras, which are referred to as swayambhu
Tanjavur S.Kalyanaraman demonstrated the utility of panchama varja dwi-madhyama ragas (using both suddha and prati madhyamas) eschewing panchamam totally. This type of ragas were known several decades earlier, but Kalyanaraman rekindled interest in them. They are 36 panchama varja dwi-madhyama ragas in all. D.Pattammal is a prolific composer, who has created a few eka-raga kritis in the above category. One example is a kriti in raga –Subhasri, which is a janya of Kanakangi (mela 1) containing both suddha and prati madhyamam with no panchamam at all. Kritis in Vitabi (janya of Vanaspati, mela 4) and Rukmambari (janya of Mayamalavagoula,) by D.Pattammal are eka-raga kritis. A recent addition to the eka-raga kriti is a composition, Bhajamyaham satatam in Hamsakalyani by the author himself.
The music literature contains more than 600 eka-raga kritis.
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