Monthly Archives: January 2014

Hamsanadam – Raga Ruminations

In the song Bantureethi Kolu Viya Vayya Rama, Tyagaraja says that worshipping Rama liberates one from the six vices of lust, anger, delusion, envy, greed and arrogance. This song in the raga Hamsanadam remains one of the most popular Carnatic compositions till today.

Hamsanadam means the “call of the swan” and is a joyous melody to hear. Besides Bantureethi, some popular songs in this raga are Kalyanarama (Oothakadu Venkatasubba Iyer) and Kripanidhe Kripajaladhe (Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar). The song Kalyanarama describes the swayamvara of Sita – from the prelude to the actual event.

Vocalist Vijay Siva gives a stellar presentation of the song Kalyanarama following raga Hamsanadam.

There is no Hindustani equivalent to this raga.

In movies, this raga has been used by several music producers.  Illayaraja has composed this unusual song Isayil Thodanguthamma for the Tamil movie Hey Raam.

For those who want details, raga Hamsanadam is a derivative of raga Neetimati (Mela 60) and the scale is as follows. SR2M2PN2 SN2PM2R2S

Note – Sometimes, the Shatrusthi Dhaivatham (D3) is heard in this melody – this was the traditional way of singing the raga.

Vasantha – Raga Ruminations

The name Vasantha invokes images of springtime and the burst of energy that comes with it. When I think of raga Vasantha, the first song that comes to mind is Hariharaputra, a composition of Muthuswamy Dikshithar. This is a beautiful slow-moving piece that describes the glory of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala. Tyagaraja’s Seethamma Mayamma is another popular song in raga Vasantha. I had sung this song at a recent concert in Bangalore.

My guru, the late Seethalakshmi Venkatesan of Bengalooru tuned many devarnamas in different ragas – here is a devarnama of Purandaradasa in raga Vasantha. The recording is from a concert at Vadiraja Kala Bhavana in Hulimavu Bangalore and the accompanying artists are C.N.Chandrashekhar (violin), C.Cheluvaraju (mridangam) and M.A.Krishnamurthy (ghatam).

Students of Carnatic music become familiar with this raga early on when they learn the sprightly varnam “Ninnu kori”, a composition of Tacchur Singaarachari. Other songs in raga Vasantha include Maragathalingam (Muthuswamy Dikshithar), Maal Maruga (Papanasam Sivan) and the popular number with dancers Natanam adinar (Gopalakrishna Bharathi).

Vasantha has no corresponding melody in Hindustani music though raag Girija shows some similarities.

The song “Minsara poove” in the Tamil movie Padayappa is based on raga Vasantha. A vibrant song, the voices of playback singer Srinivas and carnatic vocalist Nityashree brought to life this composition of A.R.Rahman.


For those who want details, raga Vasantha is a derivative of Melakartha Suryakantham (17) and the scale is as follows. SM1G3M1D2N3S SN3D2M1G3R1S