The raga system in carnatic music has a long and interesting history from the time of Matanga's Brihaddesi, where you come across the definition of Raga. The system has evolved through the centuries. Ragas like Gaula, Takka etc. are mentioned in the Brihaddesi. By the 13th century the, 'Sangita Ratnakara' of Sarangadeva lists as many as 264 ragas. Here, you come across ragas like Sankarabharana, Sri raga, Todi, Malavagaula (which is referred to as Taurushka), Kedaragaula etc. In the 14th Century Vidyaranya, in his musical treatise 'Sangeetha Saram' gives a list of fifteen mela ragas and by the year 1550,Ramamatya in his 'Swara mela kalanidhi.' speaks of 19 melas and several derivatives from each of them. In the beginning of 17th Century, Somanatha's Raga Vibhoda' and Govinda Dikshitar's "Sanqita Sudha' are two important works which deal with ragas current at that time.
In the latter half of 17tn Century, Venkatamakhi, son of Govinda Dikshitar appeared on the scene and in his monumental work 'Chatur Dandi Prakasika' expounded the 72 mela karta scheme, which brought the Mela Janya system on a rational basis. I n this work, he only showed the possibility of 72 mela kartas. But,in his scheme, a raga could be a mela if it had all the seven swaras either in the ascent (arohana) or In the descent (avarohana). Kedara Gaula which is Audava Sampurna was a mela in his scheme.
It is believed that it was Venkatarnakhi's grandson Muthu Venkatamakhi, who gave the nomenclature for the mela ragas, (Kanakambari, Phenadhyuti etc) in his gitam called 'Raganga Raga Anukramanika Gitam' (found in Subbarama Dikshitar's 'Sangitha Sampradaya Pradarsini', 1904.
Later Govindacharya, the author of 'Sangraha Chudamani' gave the nomenclature 'Kanakangi', 'Ratnangi' etc. to the 72 mela karta ragas. These melas had all the seven notes in both the ascent (arohana) and in the descent (avarohana). He has also given lakshana gitas and lakshana slokas for many Janya ragas.
The Music Academy, Madras, published the chaturdandi Prakasika and in the appendix printed what are called raga lakshanas which gave the lakshanas of several rag as.
1. Nadamuni Pandithar - Swara Prastara Sangaram
2. Abraham Pandithar - Karnamrutha Sagaram Part II
3. Manicka Mudaliar - Sangitha Chandrika
4. K. V. Sreenivasa Iyengar - Gana Bhaskaram
5. Prof. P. Sambamurthi - South Indian Music Series
6. B. Subba Rao - Raga Nidhi
7. Rangaramanuja Iyengar - Krithi Mani Malai
The Music Academy, Madras has published a report of the conclusions of the deliberation on ragas in the form of a booklet called 'Raga Lakshana'.
In recent times B. M. Sundaram of All India Radio, Pondicherry has collected and published a work called 'Palai Yazhi' in which he has given the kramas of about 3000 ragas.
Though the arohana and avarohana krama of a raga does not tell us every-thing about the raga, it provides the frame work on which it is built. Ragas like Sahana, Ahiri, Neelambari, Devagandhari and Yadhukula Kambhoji defy definition. But for the majority of ragas, the Krama helps. With regard to the names of some ragas like Devakriya, Kalavati, there is some confusion.
The book 'Raga Pravaham' by Dr. Dhandapani and D. Pattammal contains the kramas of about 5000 ragas. They have consulted about 45 books in various languages (Tamil, Telugu, Kanarese, Hindi & English) and also contacted contemporary composers. The list of ragas is given both alphabetically and Mela kartha-wise.
The different kramas for the same raga and ragas with different names are also listed.
Equivalents of ragas of the 32 panns of Tevaram are also given on the basis of the conclusions arrived at the deliberations of the Tamil lsai Sangam.
I am very glad that this work is now being published both in English and Tamil. I am sure that this book will be of great help to musicians, musicologists, teachers and music lovers.
In view of the good response for the First Edition by Musicians, Musicologists, Music Lovers and Research Scholors, we have ventured to release the Second Edition of this Book.
We hope that this will receive the same response as the First Edition. This Edition has been completely corrected and revised as pointed out by Music Critics and Research Scholors. Some more Ragas have been added and the list is appended in the Annexure.
The Bibliography is wider based. Following points are to be noted while going through the Bibliography:
1. Where there are rnore than one reference for the same Raga or Scale, the oldest printed reference is given prominence.
2. Where some Ragas to the same Scale occur in more than one Melakarta, it is the convention that the earlier Melakarta is the Janakaraga.
3. The standard and conventional signs have been given to enable the readers to pronounce the names properly.
A thought provoking article on the scientific naming of Upangavarja Ragas by Smt D Pattammal is enclosed. Readers are requested to go through the article and offer their opinions. It will be useful for discriminating Musicologists and Composers.
We are thankful to Sri.V.S.Kumar, Editorial Associate, "SRUTI" for translating the article "Upangavarja Ragas" in Tamil to English.
Late Sangeetha Kalanidhi Dr.S.Ramanathan has been the initiator and chiefly responsible continually for furtherance of our works, by his concern and constant motivation. His sudden demise is not only a severe blow and serious loss to Music community, but a personal loss to us as a Guide and Preceptor. We feel indebted to dedicate this Revised Volume in perpetuation of his Memory.
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