Thursday, March 30, 2006

More On Sri Subrahmanya!

The idea about this post had been playing on my mind ever since my previous post about Paramacharya's commentary on Muthuswamy Dikshitar.

I had been playing the Raga Shanmukhapriya on the Veena the other day, when this thought suddenly struck me. There are a whole lot of kritis in Shanmukhapriya, dedicated to many deities. There's the famous 'Siddhi Vinayakam' and many, many others. But there are also many kritis in praise of the Lord Kartikeya or Lord Subrahmanya. As I kept playing the alapana, I got involved in the various prayogas (usages) of the Raga, which is full of many shades and dimensions. This Raga has the unique ability of sounding different when handled in different ways and each of these prayogas sound equally beautiful. A single swara (note) can be used in more than one way, to produce various effects - now happy, now filled with pathos, now angry, now entreating etc.

As I continued my wonderful journey into the world of raga vistara, I thought that if the Raga itself was so beautiful, how beautiful the six-faced deity Himself must be! 'Shanmukhapriya' literally means 'that which is the beloved of Shanmukha'. Lord Muruga, according to mythology, is one of the most beautiful deities, far more beautiful than even Manmatha, or the God of Love. In any sculpture or portrait, His sparkling Lotus Eyes, the wonderful smile, the arched eye-brows, all go to form a perfect picture of His flawless features.

Indian classical music, both Carnatic and Hindustani, is essentially bhakti or devotion based. Each raga is given a swaroopa and is assigned a particular Raga Devata, which has to be rendered, imagining the form of that Devata.

I'm not heavily into musicology and I don't know what the Raga Devata of Shanmukhapriya looks like. But personally, I feel it doesn't take much trouble to liken the beauteous Vadivel to the vibrant raga. Keeping Him in mind seems to make it that much simpler to work my way round the charming, though highly complicated raga.

The ebb and flow of the raga could be compared to the various emotions crossing the Lord's face. Glowing with divinity and grace while being seated on the peacock with Valli and Devasena; the eyes reflecting the fire of valour while facing Soorapadma and the like; the triumph after having destroyed the evil forces; the aspect of the Guru, while giving Lord Pasupati upadesam on the Pranava Mantra, Om, and so on.

It's amazing how these little threads of imagination help in raga prasthaara. My teacher always keeps relating how beneficial it would be to proceed treating a raga, keeping in mind the general sketch of a figure associated with it. I now think this is exactly what she meant - maybe it's that very imagination that helps create the spontaneous waves of music and melody while she plays on her Veena. Maybe working along these lines will go a long way in helping me too, with my own quest for music..........


Blogger Sriram V Iyer said...

Another good one!

Actually, I feel bad (esp, since I tout myself as a devotee of Sri Subrahmanya Swamy) to have missed 'Shanmukha' in ShanmukhaPriya - I am sure I'll listen to this Raaga with even more interest, humility and ardor in the future.

As you righly pointed out, it helps to visualise the Devata incharge of the Raaga (or in this case, the Lord who likes this Raaga).

Btw, you have raised your own bar and I expect to see more blogs like this in future :-)


3/30/2006 11:47:00 PM  
Blogger Padma said...

rightly the end of the day i thank mami for pointing out these points....unfortunately havent learnt a krithi in be more precise i have been impartial to prathi madhyama ragas....

3/31/2006 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger krishna said...

Naatai is another shanmuga priya raaga.. am sure u wud have come across swaminAtha paripAlayA sumA(GNB popularized it)

KA Vaa VAa in varAli is another of my favorite.

My favorite MMI has rendered an amazing RTP in shanmugapriya (Saravana bava guruguha shanmuga)

if u have not, do check them out

4/19/2006 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

I love this raagam a lot and as you have rightly said, it reminds me of Lord Muruga. And one song that I love singing in Shanmugapriya Raagam is 'Vilayada Ithu Nerama'

5/28/2006 01:39:00 AM  

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