Rain – that’s likely the first word that pops up in any music lover’s head, when the raga Amritavarshini is mentioned. It is commonly attributed as a creation of Carnatic composer Muthuswamy Dikshithar and what’s likely an apocryphal story. The story goes that when the composer had visited the drought-stricken town of Ettayapuram in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, he had prayed to the goddess at the local temple. His song “Ananda amruthakarshini” in this raga is said to have led to a torrential downpour in the town. Incidentally, Ettayapuram’s famous son was Subramaniya Bharathi, the fiery patriot and Tamil poet.
Here is a recording of Maharajapuram Santhanam singing the song in a slow tempo. One can savour the nuances of the raga while listening to it.
Muthiah Bhagavathar’s composition Sudhamayee is another popular piece in the raga.
As far I’m aware, there is no Hindustani equivalent raga to Amritavarshini.
For film buffs, Amritavarshini is a find. The structure and feel of the raga is such that it can switch from classical to light music effortlessly. Several composers such as MS Viswanathan and Illayaraja have dabbled in this raga for composing film songs.
Watch how Tamil actors Sivaji Ganesan and Jayalalitha compete on stage in the movie Paattum Bharathamum while dancing to the song “Sivakami aadavandhal” sung by TM Soundarajan and P.Susheela. The song was set to music by M.S. Viswanathan.
Years later, Illayaraja came up with this dreamy song sequence “Thoongathu vizhigal rendu” in this raga for the movie Agni Nakshatram. The song was a duet by Jesudas and S.Janaki.
For those who want details, Amritavarshini has a symmetrical pentatonic scale SG3M2PN3 SN3PM2G3 and considered a derivative of Chitrambari (Mela 66).