Abhogi – Raga Ruminations

The word Abhogi in Sanskrit means nourishment. I believe raga Abhogi to be an energizing melody. The raga is heard at the early part of a classical concert. For students of Carnatic music, the varnam “Evari Bodhana” composed by Patnam Subramanya Iyer  is an important lesson in their training. Here is a marvelous rendition of this varnam by the doyen Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

As a child I remember my mother singing the song “Srilakshmi Varaham”, a composition of Dikshithar, after the Lakshmi Varatham pooja at home. I would impatiently wait for the prasad that inevitably followed after the conclusion of the song.  Here is a rendition of this ode to the goddess of prosperity by Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and M.S.Subbalakshmi.

Tyagaraja’s “Manasu Nilpa” and “Nannu Brova” are presented in a crisp manner while “Sabhapathiki”, the composition of Gopalakrishna Bharathi never fails to bring tears to the listener’s eyes. Here is a rendition of this emotive song by stalwart M.D.Ramanathan.

Abhogi has been imported into the Hindustani school of music and sometimes referred to as raag Abhogi Kanada. Here is a lovely rendition of this melody in the Hindustani style by Ustad Amir Khan.

The raga did not make a seamless transition to the silver screen due to the paucity of notes in the scale. Yet Illayaraja came up with this beautiful song “Indraikku Yen Indha” based on this raga for the Tamil movie Vaidehi Kathirindhaal, The singers are Vani Jayaram and Jayachandran.

For those who want details, Abhogi is a pentatonic scale and an audava raga (5 note-melody). It is considered a derivative (janya) of the 22nd Mela raga Karaharapriya and the scale reads as follows. SR2G2M1D2 SD2M1G2R2

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