Great Ragas: Hamsanandi

Seetha Narayanan
Seetha Narayanan / 12 yrs ago /


Shankara Srigirinath

This month the raga chosen for my Column is Hamsanandi. A janya of the 53rd melakarta Gamanasrama, this is a panchamavarjiya raga -- the raga does not have the note Pa. This is why the raga has to be handled very carefully, as accidental touching of Pa, however briefly, will bring in the shades of Poorvikalyani, another important raga in Carnatic music, which also happens to be a janya of Gamanasrama.

As the note Pa, in whichever raga it appears, is an 'anchor' note like mantra Sa and Tara Sa and acts as a nyasa swara it is a stabilizing factor. Hence, the absence of Pa calls for a little alertness in handling this raga.

This raga resembles raga Sohoni of Hindustani music, which is a janya of Marwa tthat.

Hamsanandi is a Shadava Shadava raga as it has six notes both in arohana and avarohana.

S R1 G3 M2 D2 N3 S
S N3 D2 M2 G3 R1 S

The swaras are Shudha Rishabham, Antara Gandharam, Prati Madhyamam, Chatushruti Dhaivatam and Kakali Nishadham.

A very pleasant raga, Hamsanandi is very suitable for light music, bhajans and cinema songs. Compositions for dance also sound very attractive in this raga.

As there are not many heavy compositions in this raga, the scope for using it as a main raga in a Carnatic concert is limited.

The prayogas G M D G M G and G M D N S N D M G are very attractive and establish the identity of the raga instantly.

In the accompanying first audio file, you would be listening to a brief alapana and the very popular composition Pavanaguru on Lord Guruvayurappan by Lalitadasar, who lived in the last century. Set to Rupaka tala this composition is very popular with Kerala audiences. This kriti brings out the beauty of the raga.

Other compositions in the raga are Pahi jagatjanani of Swati Tirunal in Aadi tala, Needu Mahima of Muthiah Bhagavatar also in Aadi and the Tamil composition of Papanasam Sivan Srinivasa in Aadi.

There is another type of Hamsanandi said to be a janya of 8th Melakarta Hanumathodi, which is not very popular and rather unfamiliar. It is not heard of much.

The second audio file is a Hindi bhajan by Swati Tirunal viz Shankara Srigirinath. Maharaja Swati Tirunal was a linguist and has composed in many languages. This bhajan set to Aadi tala describes the majesty of Lord Siva's Thandava nritya or cosmic dance in Chidambaram temple in Tamil Nadu. This Siva temple in the well-known pilgrim town is very famous and is dedicated to Lord Nataraja or the king of dance.

Describing the dance of Lord Sankara in the Chitra sabha of Chidambaram, the composer describes the congregation of devas and Rishi munis witnessing the cosmic dance of Lord Siva who is adorned with garland of skulls, smeared with bhasma (holy ash) dancing away with Bhootaganas. The song uses syllables used in Bharata natya i.e. TA, TATAKKITA, TAKKA etc.


Padmavathi RAmanujam / / 11 yrs ago
Padmavathi RAmanujam

the article is excellent and very useful.

Kesavan Kandadai / / 11 yrs ago
Kesavan Kandadai

fantastic article, the first one i have read on this site. there is a website called sawf where i read a lot of articles on raagas. the author rajan p. parrikar has written some amazing articles on hindustani raagas. there is an article on raagam marva/sohani. if anyone is interested, take a look. you will find audio clips of classical, film songs aswell based on raagas.

Christopher Robin / / 12 yrs ago
Christopher Robin

lots of time i see readers ask to compare carnatic ragas with film songs. its very difficult especially in this modern trend. the first flaw in comparing a film tune to a raga is film music agenda and audience are totally different for carnatic music. film music is heavily based on situations and characters. and composers has the liberty of choosing melody based on a raga or multiple ragas or combination of many as dictated by the scene,director and other factors. in classcial music one has to go by the rules. but there are lot of film songs based on ragas which have not deviated much from ragas structure. eg 'indraiku enindha anandme' from tamil movie "vaidheki kathrindal" is based on raag abogi ,'koondalile megamkandu' from movie "balanagamma" is based on raga bilahari so again depending on situation and composer these may vary. in some cases some rare ragams have also been used in film songs. ragas like 'sallabam',natakapriya,rasikapriya. hopefully people stop comparing carnatic and film music as they are different platforms. here is link for those who are interested in ragas in filmmusic chris

Seetha Narayanan / / 12 yrs ago
Seetha Narayanan

to charumati iyer .as stated in my article n3 is kakali nishadam. the raga which has r3 and d3 is rasikapriya, the 72nd melakarta

Charu Iyer / / 12 yrs ago
Charu Iyer

dear mami, i listened to shankara srigrinath bhajan. beautiful. i have one doubt. is n3 kaisiki nishadham or kaakali nishadham. also i would like to know is there any ragas that have d3 and r3 in them? pl let know the names of ragas. thanks and regards.

Seetha Narayanan / / 12 yrs ago
Seetha Narayanan

to kavita i am happy to see your posting and also to receive your suggestion by e-mail. except for a mention in ‘raganidhi’ no more information is available on the thodi janya hamsanandi. you have suggested in your e-mail that mention of film songs in the raga will be helpful. i had mentioned ‘singara velane’ in the article on abheri and ‘mantadpat’ in the article on malkauns. decades ago when vidwans like papanasam sivan and kalki wrote lyrics for films, which were set to music by stalwarts like alathur venkatesa iyer, k v mahadevan and dakshinamurthy, great carnatic classical ragas like kharaharapriya, kuntalavarali were used, without damaging their purity. nowadays you find only occasional shades of the ragas in which the film songs are set. in the name of ‘popular appeal’ the ragas get mutilated beyond recognition. there are a few exceptions like ‘ammavai’ in kalyani. great kriti of tyagaraja like ‘marimari ninne’ in kambhoji, was changed to a faulty saramati in the film sindhu bhairavi the great bilahari kriti ‘dorakuna’ was sung in kalyani in the film sankarabharanam. for these reasons,i decided not to mention these equivalent film songs. an example which which makes the ragas unrecognizable. was ‘ennavale’ which started with kedaram but had all kinds of shades including nattai. since my aim is to teach the ragas in their purity i intentionally omitted film songs which do not conform to this. i am posting this on the web for the benefit of other readers. too. i look forward to your response to future articles too.

Kavitha Venkatesan / / 12 yrs ago
Kavitha Venkatesan

great article on hamsanandi! i didnt know there was another ragam by that name. i wonder what the structure of that todi janyaraga is... thanks!

Saradha Krishnamoorthy / / 12 yrs ago
Saradha Krishnamoorthy

thanks for your response, mrs. seetha. i look forward to reading your future columns, even though they can appear only once a month. i appreciate your contribution. regards, saradha

Seetha Narayanan / / 12 yrs ago
Seetha Narayanan

to patriot and bhadraiah: it is my opinion that anyone can learn carnatic music. for a non-south indian who does not know south indian languages it is difficult but not impossible i have many gujaratis brought up in chennai as my students. they sing carnatic music very well... with hard work any one can master the music. late john higgins, an american, was indeed a maestro. my late guru p k rajagopala iyer, a great scholar, used to say that sangeetham is an upaveda of sama veda.samaveda is not strange sounds. they are plain notes without gamaka. carnatic music’s history can be traced to silappadikaram era, roughly first century ad. it is true that to learn carnatic music one needs orientation and aptitude. but training by a competent guru and hard work on the part of the pupil will make it possible for any one to learn. bharatanatyam, kathak or carnatic music some say there was only one system of music in the old days. it got bifurcated with the influence of the moghuls and a lot of persian music got incorporated. i have heard this from many scholars.. there is a musical passage in silappadikaram, the story of kannagi, which establishes that there existed a developed form of music in the south at least 2000 years ago. another great guru of mine late dr s ramanathan had published an elaborate thesis on music in silappadikaram. the folk music in tamil nadu is very extensive and rich. we have ‘kummi’ songs,’the,mmangu’, ‘kavadichindu’ and ‘kilikkani’.these are ancient and widely popular today also.there are folk songs for every occasion, births, weddings, death etc. to leela: i have already covered kalyani and kharaharapriya. others will be taken up one by the rate of one raga per month. to rajee party: the swatitirunal bhajan is not tillana. yes, tillana is special to carnatic music and the emphasis is on rhythm. an approximate equivalent in hindustani music is ‘tarana’ the carnatic tillana is a beautiful combination of lyric, notes and rhythmic syllables. in bhajans the emphasis is on bhakti and lyrical beauty... malayamarutham is in the queue please.

lee adhvaryu / / 12 yrs ago
lee adhvaryu

seetha, i am enjoying every article of yours immensely. i look forward eagerly to your posts. i would love to hear more about: panthuvarali thodi bhairavi kalyani kharaharapriya fyi to the others: has loads of technical carnatic music information. has a wonderful database of songs to listen from online. leela

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