Music Education Trust’s Currently Ongoing Dwi-Raga Festival

Music Education Trust (MET) is my guru Late Shri T.R.Subramanyam’s brainchild. The baton for running it is now in the hands of one of his prime students Dr. Radha Venkatachalam.

MET has always strived to conduct concerts and lec-dems with a purposeful view to engage and educate the most important factor for the success of a concert and for Carnatic music overall – the rasika.

From its genesis in 1989, MET has conducted numerous festivals each with a purposeful message and theme. To mention a few of them – the 10-day long Trimurthy Festival in Delhi in April 1998, four-hour concerts, concerts comprising only of Ragam, Tanam and Pallavis (RTPs), RTPs in Vivadi ragas, Eka-raga concerts (concerts with items being rendered only on one raga), composers’ based concert festivals and many more.

This year, the ongoing festival is Dwi-Raga. All the concerts will consist of the vocalist rendering items only in ONE raga and this raga will be a janya of either Shankarabharanam or Kharaharapriya. Each concert will consist of an RTP and the RTP will be in the corresponding pratimadhyama raga’s janyam. For instance, if the vocalist choose to render items in Sriranjani, a janya of Kharaharapriya, then the RTP will be in the corresponding pratimadhyama raga Hemavati’s janya raga.

My concert

Happily, I was given Begada and I accepted with alacrity! Begada is a raga that I simply LOVE. Having learnt the Ata tala varnam of Patnam Subramanya Iyer from Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s masterful rendition, with the notation supplied several

MET Concert Photo

Concert photo with Ambalapuzha Pradeep (vio), Kalladaikurichi Sivakumar (mri) and Shankar Lakshmanan (ghatam)

years ago so kindly by Shubha Ganesan, this was the first time I got the opportunity to render this varnam.

The rest of the items (R – raga alapana, N – niraval, S- Swaras):

2. Vallabha nayakasya – Rupaka – Muthuswami Dikshitar – S
3. Nee pada pankaja – Adi – Tyagaraja
4. Vaa muruga vaa – Rupaka – Spencer Venugopal
5. Gattigaanu nanu – Adi Tisra Gati – Tyagaraja
6. Manasa vachasa shirasa – Adi (2 kalai) – Mysore Vasudevacharya

This kriti of Vasudevacharya with its truly beautiful chittaswaram dripping with raga bhava deserves a separate post – will do that shortly!


7. Neevera kuladhanamu – Misra Chapu – Tyagaraga (R, N, S, Tani)

And finally, the RTP in the raga Sunaada Vinodini. This was set to Misra Triputa Tala, chatusra gati with the eduppu being 3 counts from the samam.

Being Sunday, the following was the pallavi:

sUrya dEvam padma mitram savitAram bhajE – sadA manasA shirasA

Kollam-based violinist Ambalapuzha Pradeep played enthusiastically the alapanas of Begada and Sunaada Vinodini and also the taanam.  Kalladaikurichi Sivakumar, as usual, played with understanding and the sensitivity to saahityam that he is known for – especially since many of the compositions were new to him.  The ghatam by Mumbai-based Shankar Lakshmanan was a last-minute inclusion and unsurprisingly, he rose to the occasion on both the days (my concert and for the preceding day’s concert) most admirably.

I ended the concert with Muthuswami Dikshitar’s Tyagarajaya Namaste followed by a slokam.

Another photo

Another photo

Sunaada Vinodini – & Mysore Vasudevacharya!

Sunaada Vinodini is a raga that is technically a janya of Kalyani, Shankarabharanam’s prati madhyama counterpart. However intuitively it appears closer to Hamsaanandi, which is a janya of Gamanasrama (the 53rd melakarta raga). Removing the rishabha from Hamsaanandi gives us Sunaada Vinodini and the latter can hence be considered as a janya of both Kalyani and Gamanasrama.

The composer who first gave ”life” to Sunaada Vinodini was Mysore Vasudevacharya. His compact Devaadi Deva set to adi tala is a very popular kriti that was extensively popularized by the maestro M. Balamuralikrishna. Several other vidwans like Flute N.Ramani and Mandolin U.Srinivas also revelled playing Sunaada Vinodini.

Once again in my opinion Mysore Vasudevachar’s genius for composing (as a vaaggeyakara) comes to the fore. It cannot be gainsaid that Hamsaanandi’s rakti and appeal is unmistakable. It is one of the most popular ragas particularly for viruttams, thukkada items and is also occasionally taken up for Ragam, Tanam and Pallavi by musicians. Compositions like Paavana guru (by Lalitha Dasar), the very popular Pahi Jagajjanani (Swathi Thirunal) and the evocative Srinivasa (Papanasam Sivan) are performed regularly in concerts.

That being the case, I have often wondered why Vasudevachar chose to compose in Sunaada Vinodini which is fairly close to the extremely well-known Hamsanandi. The raga seems to have existed theoretically in books containing treatises on Carnatic music. It is my surmise that Vasudevacharya when going through some of these treatises came across Sunaada Vinodini and after mulling over it for the period of time came to the conclusion that the raga has enough scope to hold its own against the better-known Hamsaanandi.

Hence he has started Devadi Deva from the mandhara shadja that removes all doubt and ambiguity and establishes the raga beyond doubt.  The presence of the powerful note of the dhaivata also puts paid to any shades of Amritavarshini creeping in.

Hence this concert was truly a celebration with Begada and Sunaada Vinodini!


About Mohan Santhanam

Carnatic vocalist, based in Chennai. Disciple of Late Shri T.R.Subramanyam (TRS).
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