Dhanyasi – Raga Ruminations

The strains of raga Dhanyasi reverberates in my living room. I haven’t heard this raga in a long time. The singer is Ramnad Krishnan, one of the greatest Carnatic vocalists in my opinion. Regarded as a “musician’s musician” by many, his manodharma(imagination) was unparalleled when it came to raga alapana.  The Dhanyasi is soul-stirring and I can now understand why other Carnatic connoisseurs feel his music is “soukya sangeetham”.

As I listen to the maestro unravel the richness of the melody, I wonder why raga Dhanyasi is heard infrequently on the concert platform. Is it overshadowed by its parent raga Thodi or another raga Shudha Dhanyasi (an offshoot of raga Karaharapriya)? Listen to raga Dhanyasi sung by Ramnad Krishnan and revel in the nuances of this ancient raga.

The first song that comes to mind for raga Dhanyasi is Tyagaraja’s “Sangeetha gnanamu”. In this song, the composer highlights the importance of bhakthi (devotion) and how one can never attain the right path with just a knowledge of the music. Listen to Neduneri Krishnamurthy sing Sangeetha gnyanamu. The clarity of the lyrics, the sangatis (embellishments) presented in gradual progression and neat presentation of the song in his inimitable style are a treat to the ears.

Papanasam Sivan’s composition, “Balakrishnan Paadamalar” is another emotive piece in this raga. Other songs in raga Dhanyasi include “Nee Chithhamu” (Tyagaraja), “Sri Ranganathaya namasthe” (Dikshithar), “Kalayami Sriramam” (Swati Tirunal) and “Meenalochana Brova”, the slow-paced beautiful composition of Shyama Shastri in Misra Chapu tala praising Goddess Meenakshi of Madurai.

As far as I know, there is no Hindustani equivalent for raga Dhanyasi. I haven’t found any film songs that are based on raga Dhanyasi.

For those who want details, Dhanyasi is a janya raga of Hanumathodi (Mela 8) and the scale reads as follows.

SG2M1PN2S SN2D1PMG2R1S

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