Monday, June 6, 2011

Chakravagam (Melancholy), Malayamarudham (Mountain breeze) and Rasikaranjani (the Mystic)

A friend of mine was quizzing about the raga used in the song amudhae thamizhae. It is based on raga rasikaranjani. If anyone wanted me to pin point a song that truly reflects India's rich heritage in classical music or even better, thamizh isai, i will point to "amudhae thamizhae".. .

The parent (melakartha) of this raga is chakravagam. If you delete madhyamam (M1) from chakravagam it is 'malayamarudham' and if you further delete nishadham (N2) from malayamarudham, you land up with rasikaranjani.

The triple "M"s - Melancholy, Mountain Breeze and the Mystic

Chakravagam | S R1 G3 M1 P D2 N2 S | S N2 D2 P M1 G3 R1 S - melancholy

Malayamarutham | S R1 G3 P D2 N2 S | S N2 D2 P G3 R1 S - mountain breeze

Rasikaranjani | S R1 G3 P D2 S | S D2 P G3 R1 S - mystic

(A) Melancholy

First chakravagam! The raga evokes a sad/melancholic feel (old timers wont forget the "ullathil nalla ullam" from film karnan). I read somewhere that the chakravaga paravai (bird) got a curse from Lord Rama that the male and female pair should stay separated (at nights! ada paavamae!). Probably this is why the raga has this "heartbreaking" quality attached to it. But Raja breaks that rule too. He has used such a sad/melancholy based raga for songs like "chalakku chalakku selai", "vaanilae thenila" and "vanithamani" . I am reminded of what Raja said once," I do what comes to my mind, and have no inhibitions of breaking established rules, if that is what it takes."

See the list of Raaja numbers in chakravagam.

| S R1 G3 M1 P D2 N2 S | S N2 D2 P M1 G3 R1 S
(its hindustani counterpart is Ahirbhairavi !)

Alli Sundaravalli
Kangalin Vaarthaigal ( jeez!!! what a gem)

Chalakku Chalakku

Keliside Prema Velaa
Gulabi (Kannada)

Kothara Pithaara Kokko
Detective Naarada (Telugu)

Halli Laavaniyali
Nammura Mandaara Hoove (Kannada)

Iniya Malargal Malarum

Love Love
Sakkarai Thevan

Marandhen Pirandhen
ilaiyarajavin Geethanjali (a hypnotic tune)

Nee Paadhi Naan Paadhi
Keladi Kanmani (that stunning 20 seconds prelude )


Vanile Thenila
Kaakhi Sattai

Vanithamani Vanamogini
Vikram (staggering strings work!!)

(B) Mountain Breeze

Now over to malayamarudham! Malayamarudham lierally means cool and fragrant mountain breeze. Remember the keeravani based "poo pookum maasam" from varusham 16? Therein there is a line where susheela sings,"mandhamaarud ham veesudhu, malayamaarudham paadudhu"... A blog that i happened to hit while digging for this raga definition was titled "definition- of-hacker" by kamaraju@gmail. com. His blog defined malayamarutham very neatly - QUOTE "Malayamarutham is a mellifluous raaga in carnatic music which will make one soft at heart. In telugu, malaya maarutham is a cool evening breeze which invigorates mind, body & heart." UNQUOTE.

It is believed that hilly regions have pure air that can heal your body. Many times i feel even Raja's music has the same healing effect. Raja has given some gripping & breezy malayamarudham based songs, including thendral ennai muthamittadhu, oomai nenjin sondham and the eternal 'kanmani nee vara kathirundhaen' ...Here is the list of Raja's numbers in malayamarudham,

| S R1 G3 P D2 N2 S | S N2 D2 P G3 R1 S

Aalolam Peelikavadi Theril
Aalolam (Malayalam)

Kanmani Nee Vara
Thendrale Ennai Thodu

Oomai Nenjin Sondham
Manidhanin Marupakkam

Poojaikaaga Vaadum Poovai
Kaadhal Oviyam

Thendral Ennai Muthamittathu
Oru Odai Nadiyagirathu

(C) Mystic

Raaja's rasikaranjani include

| S R1 G3 P D2 S | S D2 P G3 R1 S
(Malayamarudham sans Ni2 !)

Amuthae Thamizhae
Kovil Pura

Ethilum Ingu Iruppan

Nila Kuyilae Unnodu Naan

I dont know how i associate this raga with something mystic. Somehow, when i listen to songs composed by our maestro in this raga, i kind of feel as if i am listening to the very first song created by a composer who has just woken up after several hundred years of meditation over the art of creating music. Like as if these songs (or is it the quality of the raga?) were kept incubated in the musical genious' mind over several hundred years, were worked and re-worked upon umpteen number of times and finally it has been given to us, with all love and grace of a spiritual master to his disciples. Such is the mystic quality and the wholeness of the songs composed by IR in this raga. Be it the haunting nature of the tunes amuthae thamizhae & neela kuyilae unnodu naan or be it the strong spiritual undercurrent in the bharathi song "ethilum ingu iruppan avan yaaro".


  1. Very good collection of songs in these 3 ragas Vel. I would also like to point out that the song Kavithai Kelungal has both malayamaruthm and chakravagam in its charanams. Check out my blog for more details:

  2. Awesome post Ramesh...thanks for the link !!