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Melodic Individuality (Prof. S R Janakiraman): Poorvikalyani has other names like Poorvakalyani, Poorikalyani. The scale that is followed today is s r g m p d p s - S n D p M g r s. Even while singing the Arohana - Avarohana, the raga should be brought forth. The first so-called physical format that brings out in bold relief or in a nutshell the melodic entity and individuality of a raga is the Arohana - Avarohana, which was originally called its Moorchana. The scale mentioned in the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini is s r g m p D s - S n d p m g r s, which is Gamakakriya and which is also called Poorvakalyani. 

Scientifically speaking, when the scale has been purposely fixed as s r g m p d p s, the prayogas g m d s, m d s, p d s, m p d s are prohibitory. Or else the scale could have been fixed as s r g m p d s. That perhaps leads us to conclude that there is should be a definite difference between Poorvikalyani and Gamakakriya. In the kritis in Gamakakriya, prayogas like d s p d s, d d S n d, R S R S n d, p d S, d G R S n d, s r r g m d m g r s would come.

Suddha Rishabha and Chatusruti Dhaivata are not Samvadi swaras. Suddha Rishabha - Suddha Dhaivata and Chatusruti Rishabha - Chatusruti Dhaivata are only Samvadi swaras. But in Poorvikalyani the prayoga d d R S R  is very common. The Rishabha in the phrase d d R S R, d d R R R sounds in two different (sruti) values. In the phrase d d G R R and g m r g the Rishabha, although Suddha Rishabha is slightly higher in its value. It would not stick to the exact sruti value of Suddha Rishabha. In one way even Prati Madhyama and Suddha Rishabha also would match, even though they are not Samvadi. Samvadis are either fourths and fifths. But Dr. Rajinikanth Rao's contention is that sometimes it is also Sapta Sruti Samvadi as in Poorvikalyani. A comfortable Chatustruti Dhaivata in the Mandra Sthayi and Antara Gandhara are extraordinary nyasas. The curvature of Dhaivata and Gandhara is very beautiful. There are no restrictions as to range as in Kamavardhani where one normally doesn't go beyond the Tara Sthyai.

Ninne Kori, a Varnam by Sonti Venkatasubbayya and Karanam Kettuvadi (Suddhananda Bharati) start with the stop phrases in the Mandra sthayi which is very common in Poorvikalyani, but for a change, Tyagaraja's Paripoorna kama starts with a phrase in the Madhya sthayi. While talking about the melodic entities, in Syama Sastri's  Ninnu vinagamari, the raga just floats in the 7 beats. We talk about the melodic entities and other aspects, but the classification of ragas on utilitarian value of the composition struck only Ramamatya, to classify ragas as Uttama (superior), Madhyama (moderate) and Adhama (inferior). Poorvikalyani is suitable for all the 3 orders.

Subbarama Dikshitar says that Poorvikalyani is a Raganga and Desiya raga. It is also said that it is also a rakti raga. Whether we take it for granted that it is a Raganga or Desiya raga, we have to swear that Poorvikalyani is only a rakti raga of pre-eminence absolutely suitable and for all kinds of compositions and all kinds of manodharma sangeeta.

Historical Aspects ( Dr. Prameela Gurumurthy): While dealing with ragas and its lakshanas new ideas and thoughts come in. When we talk about Poorvikalyani, we find that there are many references to this in books -  Prof. Sambamoorti's South Indian Music, Part 6, S R Janakiraman's Raga Lakshanas, Sambamoorti's Ragalakshna, 3rd Part and most importantly, Subbarama Dikshitar's Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini. Apart from Sonti Venkatasubbayya's Varnam which is mentioned in the Sampradaya Pradarsini, there are two other Varnams - an Ata tala Varnam of Patnam Subramanya Iyer and an Adi tala Varnam of Vendanta Bhagavatar in Gamakakriya.

Looking into the historical background, raga Poorvi  is mentioned as Poorva in Srinivasa's Raga Tala Vibodha.  In Lochana Kavi's Raga Tarangini (14th century), the 10th of the 12 melas listed is Poorva.  Annamacharya also seems to have dealt with the raga Poorvi.  Somanatha in Raga Vibhoda (consisting of 23 melas and 75 janya ragas) mentions Poorvi as a janya of Malavagowla. Sradhala Chandrodaya (17th century) mentions Poori, a janya of the 2nd mela, Mayamalavagowla and the Anubandha (supplement) of the Chaturdandi Prakasika, which is believed to be a later addition, mentions raga Pouravi, again a janya of the 15th mela, Mayamalavagowla.  Tulaja's Sangeeta Saramrita speaks about the raga Poorvi, the janya of Malavagowla. The common factor here is that all these ragas have been consistently mentioned as the janya of Malavagowla. 

Tirugokaranam Vaidyanatha Iyer has composed a piece in Poorvi, which is still under controversy as to whether it is a Druphad or a Tillana.

T V Subba Rao in his Raga Nidhi mentions that Poorvi belongs to the Hindustani Poorvi That and also that it is  equivalent to Kamavardhini, a sampoorna raga in Carnatic music. There are two types of Poorvi, one which uses Prati Madhyama and another that uses both Suddha and Prati Madhyamas.  Panchama is rare but not omitted. Bhairav That in Hindustani is the counterpart of Poorvikalyani. 

There is a raga called Poorvi in Carnatic music also which is a janya of the 15th mela, Mayamalavagowla. This is different from Poorvikalyani. And again, Poorvakalyani and Poorvikalyani are not the same.  As Poorvikalyani is a Desiya raga, it can be said that this raga evolved from Hindustani music. The counter part of Gamanasrama is Pooryakalyan. The Pann name of Pantuvarali is'Sadari, but there is no equivalent Pann for Poorvikalyani. However traditionally Tevarams are also sung in Poorvikalyani.

Compositions (N Vijay Siva): Invariably compositions in Poorvikalyani starts with the phrase p m g r s n d or s d s r g.  If it starts with the phrase m g r s it could sound like Hamsanandi, so the phrase could be set as p m g r s. Even this could lead to doubts as to whether it is Pantuvarali. This would probably be the reason why most of the composers have started Poorvikalyani with the phrases p m g r s n d or s d  to establish the raga at the first instance and set these phrases as a common factor in most of the kritis.  

Except the Anupallavi of 'Meenakshi memudam, most Anupallavis touch the Tara sthayi Shadja and the Charanam starts with Panchama. The phrase n d m g r when rendered flat brings Hamsanandi and with a subtle difference, if rendered with a curve in all swaras brings Poorvikalyani. In the kriti Paripoornakama, the phrase, s s s S, S in anupallavi is very beautiful.  In Meenakshi memudam the line 'Vinagana'  set in a phrase R S .. gives a good perception of Poorvikalyani.  Muthuswami Dikshitar has not used the common phrases in his kritis. The kriti 'Kasi Visalakshi' starts with the phrase g r g. In his compositions he has used s r g m p d s  and also s r g m p d p s and therefore approved both the prayogas.  Today both are used in concerts, even though there is a controversy in its scale.

It is an interesting fact that Syama Sastri in the kriti Enneramum un namam has set the first 3 phrases as Pantuvarali and only in the 4th phrase very clearly  brings out Poorvikalyani. In the Anupallavi, the phrase p p R R R used unexpectedly is astounding.  He has given a clear picture in his compositions as how to use the prayogas g m d s and p d p s and how much these phrases should be used.  There is a controversy whether Gnyanamosagarada is Poorvikalyani, Shadvidhamargini or Gamanasrama.

Tiruvarur Ramasami Pillai in his kriti Ekkalattilum unnaimaravamale  has handled swaraksharas very beautifully.  This kriti has the most beautiful sahitya for the Chittaswaram. In Paramapavana Rama composed by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar r g s is a special phrase and the Chitta swara is also very beautiful. The Bhadrachala Ramadas kriti O rama ne namam is sung in two different types. Ponniah Pillai's Satileni guru guhamurti has a  phrase in its Pallavi, r g r -  g m g - p d p, which is a beautiful combination.  The commencing phrase S n P m g G of the Pallavi in that kriti itself is very beautiful. The Tillana of Mysore Sadasiva Rao is a very lovely piece but a challenge to sing.  In the kriti Vanajasana, the highest swara handled is Dhaivata.  The lowest swara used in this raga is Panchama. g S n d is another beautiful phrase. The phrase d n m d s s is a ranjaka prayoga.  Unlike Todi, Sankarabaranam and similar ragas, even with the knowledge of 2 kritis one can sing raga Poorvikalyani.

Other kritis in Poorvikalyani include Karunakara moorti and Karanam kettu vadi of Vedanayakam Pillai, Moyyar kadam poigai (Manikkavachakar), Ananda natamaduvar ( Neelakanta Sivan) and Koodarai vellum, an Andal Tiruppavai.

Gamakas ( Rama Ravi): Talking about the melodic individuality and compositions of a raga invariably leads us to the Gamaka aspects also. Poorvikalyani with all the unique curves and prayogas can be termed as a Gamakavarika raga. The Hindustani raga Poorvi is equivalent to Kamavardhini in the Carnatic system. Poorya Dhanasri takes both Suddha and Prati Madhyama. In Carnatic music, we mostly start with Shadja, but in Hindustani music, it is starts with Nishada.

In most of the Hindustani ragas the difference is identified with the help of Vadi and Samvadi swaras. That way the allied ragas Poorya, Sohini and Marwa are differentiated by the vadi-samvadi swaras and also by the importance given to the Uttaranga. In Marwa, the sanchara oscillates between the two swaras Ri and Dha for a long time and finally touches the Tara Shadja, giving full effect to the raga. In Poorya the importance shifts to Ni. The phrase m g r s is rendered fast which is called a Sphurita gamaka.  

Mixing of two ragas and bringing out a new raga chaya was practiced even in olden days. In the same way raga Poorvikalyani is a mixture of the two ragas Poorya and Kalyan. Poorya being an equivalent to Hamsanandi and Poorvikalyani being a Desiya raga, there are many Panchama-varja phrases in the Avarohana that resemble those of Hamsanandi. The Chittaswara in the kriti 'Paramapavana' is very beautiful with many Panchama-varja phrases.  

Rishabha is the jeeva swara of Poorvikalyani, but it is not a condition that it has be rendered with a gamaka. Gamaka by itself acts differentely in different contexts. In the phrase G R S in the higher octave, it gives a Hindustani effect as gamakas in that system involve a glide from a higher swara to a lower one. The gamaka in the phrase s r is a typical Carnatic gamaka. In Poorvikalyani the moorchana is established in the Avarohana. Anuswara is a supporting ornamentation that would make the main swara appear beautiful. In the phrase p m r, the Gandhara merges with Rishabha but is not seen separately. In the phrase G R s the Gandhara speaks like m g, and when Dhaivata is rendered, it sounds like n d. There are some Vainika gamakas called Kurula and Vali. The phrase r d is a very important prayoga. In the gamaka Kandippu, the Nishada is hidden in the phrase s n d. Even though we do not notice or recognize the names of gamakas, as we sing, many gamakas are produced spontaneously.

Manodharma ( T P Vaidyanathan): The creativity of a musician who comes out with all his fertile imagination is Manodharma. Manodharma must have come into being at the time when the concept of raga began. In olden days, kritis were only given importance. Raga alapana was sung within a format or structure, according to its scale. Manodharma has got some typical characteristics.

While singing a raga certain aspects are generally followed. Firstly, one would have in mind the Lakshana of the chosen raga, its jeeva and nyasa swaras, and the visesha prayogas in that raga, even though he would not think of each aspect separately. It has to come spontaneously, covering all the aspects, as one starts singing raga. The moment it gets into the realm of the stereotyped, Manodharma is defeated.

As Vijay Siva said, one can start singing raga with a knowledge of just two kritis because almost all the prayogas would be covered in a kriti. But for beginners, it is not very easy to concentrate on the jeeva and nyasa swaras, and the scale of the raga at the same time. All shades of a particular raga is inherent in a kriti. It is for us to regulate them when we sing the raga. One has to listen to lot of music and mentally involve oneself while singing a raga. 

Sri. Vaidyanathan referred to the kriti 'Gangadhara tripura' of Mysore Sadasiva Rao, in which the Charanam line 'Sringara sekhara siva sankara' is very beautiful and used it to illustrate all the monodharma aspects - alapana, tanam, neraval and kalpanaswaras. While illustrating kalpanaswaras, he said that sarvalaghu patterns would be the best for beginners.

The panel discussion on Poorvikalyani was followed by a thematic concert on the same by senior vocalist Charumati Ramachandran. Her concert included an Ata tala varnam, Satileni (Ponniah Pillai), Paralokasadhname (Tyagaraja), Meenakshimemudam (Dikshitar), followed by a Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Tisra Triputa tala, Misra gati. The words of the Pallavi were "Varam arulvai nee saravanabhavane vannamayil vahanane manamohanane needa swaminatha".

Pushkala Ramakrishnan



The eminence and prominence of a raga is conditioned by both antiquity and popularity. Ancient ragas need not necessarily be popular and popular ragas need not be of vintage variety. Poorvakalyani is a raga of relatively recent origin with a high popularity rating.

The dearth of reference in texts like Sangeeta Makaranda, Dattila, Sangeeta Ratnakara and even in the Chaturdandi Prakasika limits the naissance of this raga to the early part of the 17th century AD . There is concrete and tangible reference to this raga by Govindacharya in the Sangeeta Choodamani, duly establishing this raga’s existence in the pre-Trinity period:

Jaataa tu Poorvakalyani Gamanasramanamelatara 
Sanyaasam saamshakam chaiva Sa shadja grahamuchyate
Sampoornam vakram arohe apyavarohe samagrakam 
Sa-ri-gaa-ma-pa-dhaa-ni-dha-sa; ni-dhaa-pa-ma-gaa-ri-saa

Readers should note that Govindacharya has named the raga as Poorvakalyani. This raga is also known as Poorvikalyani and Poorikalyani. Perhaps Poorvikalyani and Poorikalyani are colloquial aberrations. Nomenclature is not insignificant and cannot be cursorily dealt with. Modern interpretation to the name Poorvikalyani is verily, a figment of imagination. The interpretation is that the Poorvanga sounds like the raga Poorvi and the Uttaraanga like Kalyani, wherefore the name Poorvi-Kalyani. Carnatic music accepts Chayalaka ragas (ragas in which nuances of other ragas are seen, e.g., Natakapriya, Dwijavanti, Ghanta), but does not subscribe, like Hindustani music, to Misra ragas. Prima-facie, such a concept appears to be alien to our system of music. The next issue is, which Poorvi raga is referred to in the name? Granted that there are finite nuances of Pantuvarali in the Poorvanga, how does Pantuvarali become Poorvi? Interpretational protaganists state that raga Poorvi of Hindustani music is Pantuvarali of Carnatic music and hence there is nothing wrong in calling this raga as Poorvi-Kalyani. Why by-pass the Carnatic raga called Poorvi? Are we culturally and intellectually improverished to borrow, for the sake of argument, ragas extraneous to our system? The proximate equivalent to this raga in Hindustani music is a Pooriya-Kalyan. Superimposition of Poorvi in the name and equating it with a Hindustani raga are far-fetched and perhaps, incompatible too. Nevertheless, the name could never be Poori Kalyani.

An interesting clue is found in the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini, where Subbarama Dikshitar refers to Gamakakriya as a Desiya raga, one of folk-origin. Correlating this observation with some passages found in the Chaturdandi Prakasika, like “Deseeya Raagaah Kalyaani pramukah santi kotishaha” and “Pantuvaraalakhyaah – geeta thaya prabandhaanaam doora tarah smritaha“ makes interesting revelations. Ragas like Ramakriya (51st mela), Desisimharava (58th mela) and Santakalyani (65th mela) had folk origins and metamorphosised as hyper-classical ragas. The Chaturdandi Prakasika does not refer to Poorvakalyani. This raga, with definitive traces of Kalyani in the Uttaranga, appears in the sequential order before Kalyani, for which it was called Poorvi-Kalyani, the name used by Govindacharya. The raga mudra used in a modern composition is also Poorvakalyani – “Parasudhara hara brutya poorvakalyana karah”. Thus, it would be both apt and appropriate to name this raga as Poorvakalyani.

Detractors of the views expressed hereabove point to the composition “O Rama nee naamam enta ruchira” by Bhadrachala Ramdas – they opine that the raga existed much before the Trinity. This is is easily countered by the fact that the old version was in Pantuvarali. They further cite three Devaranamas of Purandaradasa in Poorvakalyani – perhaps chiseled by post-Purandaradasa tunesmiths. There are multiple and magnificent Devaranamas in Ramakriya (Pantuvarali) – why only three in Poorvakalyani? The issue remains unsolved. This raga is of pre-Trinity naissance and shot to prominence through the compositions of the Trinity. Poorva-Kalyani is one of the select twenty eight ragas in which we have at least one composition by each member of the Trinity.

Adherents of Venkatamakhin’s tradition have no nomenclature complications. To them, it was, it is and it shall be Gamakakriya. As no reference was made in the Chaturdandi Prakasika, the Lakshana sloka is extremely cursory in the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini - “Gamakakriyaa raago ayam sarvakale prageeyate”.

Despite being a raga that can be rendered at all times, rasikas know that the effect is profound when this raga is rendered just after sunset. Muthuswami Dikshitar has used the raga mudra in two compositions. The first is “Veenaaavaadana dasa Gamakakriye”. The attribute, in this passage is to Devi Meenakshi, not to the raga. The second reference is found in the composition Kasi Visalakshim, in which we have the delectable passage “Gandharva ghoshita Gamakakriyaa modeneem", meaning, Devi likes the rendition of this raga by the celestial musicians, the Gandharvas

Gamakakriya is a deceptive name. It conveys the impression that Gamakas abound, in this raga. The integral swaras of this raga are of the mrudu-kampita type. These swaras permit limited elongation, not over-extended elongation. The uniqueness of this raga is capsulated in the scarcely cognizable fact that all swaras can be deemed to be jeeva swaras. Nevertheless, the Gandhara, Madhyama and Dhaivata swaras are accorded relative prominence and dominance, they being befitting graha-nyasa and amsa swaras. A careful scrutiny of Dikshitar’s concept of this raga will reveal that he has preferred the sanchara “ga-ma-dha-sa” always, which some deem as a special usage or a visesha prayoga. Great men do think alike. Tyagaraja too has adopted this sanchara in his kriti Paripoornakama. In this raga, Nishada is a relatively weak swara, characterised by its aptness as a graha swara and its unsuitability as a nyasa swara. This raga is characterised by the “pa-dha-pa-sa” movement. The greatness of this raga lies in the fact that Panchama-varjya prayogas enhance the aesthetic value. Apart from “ga-ma-dha-sa” cited earlier, we have descending prayogas like “ni-dha-ma-ga” and “dha-ma-ga-ri” which are highly aesthetic in content. It is not correct to construe that Panchama’s presence diminishes aesthetic value or ranjakatva; “dha-ni-Sa-ni-dha-pa-ma-ga-ri” is a defunct visesha prayoga, nowadays seldom rendered. 

Govindacharya enunciated the vakratva in the arohana as ma-pa-dha-ni-dha-Sa. This certainly implies that dha-ni-sa is undesirable, in this raga. The absence of dha-ni-sa is the essential divergence between Gamanasrama and Poorvakalyani. Subbarama Dikshitar has not described vakratva, in the Arohana, which he states as sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-dha-sa. Pa-dha-pa-sa was a safety rote prescribed and propagated by an unidentified noble musicologist and musician. God bless him! This proves that Poorva Kalyani is not equal to Gamakakriya. Knowledgeable and high-class artistes should not use “pa-dha-pa-sa” when singing Gamakakriya – only “pa-dha-sa” be used and use “pa-dha-pa-sa” when rendering Poorvakalyani, which is a derivative of raga Gamanasrama. 

The “pa-dha-pa-sa” or “pa-dha-sa” factor has great significance, hardly recognised. Take Anandabhairavi, which has “pa-dha-pa-sa”. Take Bilahari or Mohana, with “pa-dha-sa”. All these ragas, including Poorvakalyani, generate a sense of exhilaration, happiness or ananda when heard. This is perhaps the reason why one raga got the name Anandabhairavi. Poorvakalyani belongs to this great and exclusive group of ragas. It promotes rasanubhava of Sringara, Adbhuta and Santa rasas – even unalloyed bliss or equanimity called ananda; indeed, it is a great raga.

The presence of Suddha Rishabha, Antara Gandhara and Prati Madhyama in the Poorvanga does establish similarity with Ramakriya (Pantuvarali). A good and experienced musician knows that the Rishabha in Poorvakalyani is Dwisruti Rishabha, by which we can distinguish this from Ramakriya. Vakratva in Arohana is another distinguishing factor, which however, is present only in the Arohana, imposed by some great person. The swara-samvaditva found in raga Kalyani is absent in raga Poorvakalyani. This also, is a subtle, but finite difference. These factors go against the nomenclature façade of identity propagated by some musicologists. Poorvakalyani is distinct from Pantuvarali and Kalyani. What is there in a name? A rose, is a rose, is a rose. Similarly, Poorvakalyani is Poorvakalyani, is Poorvakalyani. 

Subbarama Dikshitar, has cited and provided in his magnum-opus, an Ata tala Varnam in Poorvakalyani, Ninnu Koriyunnanu Chakkani, by Sonti Venkatasubbayya. This is proof that this raga was popular in the pre-Trinity period. Interestingly, this Varnam does not have the sanchara “pa-dha-pa-sa” which substantiates our view that this sanchara is the legacy of an unknown benefactor. The Lakshya Gita in Sampradaya Pradarsini commences in the Tara sthayi with the notes Pa-Pa-Dha-ma-ga-ri-gaa-ma-ma-ga-ma-ga-ri-sa – enchanting indeed, enhanced by its being set to Dhruva tala. The Varnam referred to has sancharas like “dha-ni-pa” and “dha-ni-dha-pa” which is not a violation of the norms of Gamakakriya. Subbarama Dikshitar is right in choosing that Varnam as an example. Tyagaraja’s two original compositions in this raga Paripoornakama and Paralokasadhaname. His transmigrated composition is Gnanamosagarada. We have five beautiful compositions (in Gamakakriya) by Muthuswami Dikshitar, which can be verily called as Pancharatnas. Good wine needs no bush. Similarly, Syama Sastri's Ninnuvinagamari needs no introduction, as it is a favourite composition of those who revel in vocal and rhythmic pyro-techniques. A Tamil composition Ennerammum ninnaamam is also attributed to Syama Sastri, the authenticity of which is questioned by some scholars. Maruvaneeku mariyadaga was a hit of yesteryears, forgotten nowadays, composed by Pallavi Seshayyar. Satre vilagi irum pillaai by Gopalakrishna Bharati is a noteworthy composition in this raga. The popular and partially plagierised Paramapavana rama by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar has to be mentioned. Mysore samasthana vidwans gave a place of pride to this raga, as can be seen from Seshanna’s Matya tala Varnam, Vasudevachar’s compositions and Sadasiva Rao’s Tillana. Pattabhiramayya’s javali, Neematale mayanura, a gem of the Dhanammal school shines a fair star, when only one is shining in the sky. Even the Tiruppugazh Marukkulaaviya malarinai, rendered in an anachronistic tune is lovely.

Poorvakalyani is accepted as a high grade rakti raga because of the inherent aesthetic value. Its relatively recent origin has not been a handicap. Old, indeed is gold; but remember forever that gold is always gold, as Poorvakalyani is Poorvakalyani.



  • The Ekamranatha temple at Kanchipuram is sought to be dissociated from the Kamakshi temple by some Devi Upasakas on the ground that Adi Sakti Kamakshi is superior to Vishnu, Siva or Brahma. They say that Ekamranatha’s consort is Elavarkuzhali Amman, the Devi found in the Somaskanda panel behind the Prithvi Linga. This view is denied by Syama Sastri, who refers to the Goddess as “Pannagabhooshanudaina Kanchi Ekamrapati manoharini Sri Kamakshi“ in his masterpiece, Ninnuvinaga mari.

  • It is a matter of regret that musicians do not render the last Charanam “Tamasambu seya” in Syama Sastri’s composition, Ninnuvinaga mari”,which is a lovely passage highlighting the autsukya (impatience) of Syama Sastri in obtaining Devi’s grace.

  • It is not an exaggeration, if one calls the five compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar as Gamakakriya Pancharatna. The composition “Navaratna malineem natajana paripalineem” is considered as a protection, a kavacha, against poisoning, voodoo by enemies - parakarma mantra tantra samhara samhara. Mark the word in this composition “Nava vidha vishaadi aabhicharaadi naasineem”.

  • Residents of Chennai hardly appreciate the fact that it is only Muthuswami Dikshitar who sang in praise of deities enshrined in city temples. Tiruvateeswaram Namami (Gamakakriya) has been sung in praise of Champakavalli Amman, Udanurai Arulmigu Tiruvateeswarar of Tiruvateeswaranpettai (Jaam Bazaar). Its twin song Sri Parthasarathina (Suddha Dhanyasi) on Lord Parthasarathi of Tiruvallikeni is most popular.

  • A heavy and difficult composition in the raga Gamakakriya is Ekamranatham bhajeham, satisfactory renditions of which has made only by late Sri Ramnad Krishnan and Sri B Rajam Iyer. The Charanam starts with “Panchakshara mantra”. Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Iyengar has taken same mettu at the commencement of the Charanam of his composition Paramapavana starting with the word “Kanakambaradhara”. Is this outright plaigiarism or a case of “Great men think alike”?

  • Abberations galore have happened to compositions of Tyagaraja. Gnanamosagarada was composed by him in raga Shadvidhamargini. The Tillaisthanam patantara is still only in raga Shadvidhamargini. The popular version, however, is in Poorvakalyani. A case of the duplicate being better than the original!.

  • Muthuswami Dikshitar shed his mortal coils of on Deepavali day as his disciples were rendering “Meenalochani paasamochani” (O fished- eyed one, the liberator from bondages) from the kriti Meenakshi memudam in raga Gamakakriya.

  • The Zamindar of Uttruturai (Tirunelveli district) was a scholar well versed in Tamil and classical music and was a patron of music. He had invited Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan to render a concert. Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan wanted to do something unique. He created the Damarooka Tala with 27 aksharas and composed a Pallavi with two avartanas in this tala. The Sahitya is “Shambo (7 aksharas) Natara (5 aksharas) Ja (3 aksharas) Deva (5 aksharas) Pahimam (7 aksharas) (first avartana over) Kaameswa (7 aksharas)  ra-chit (5 aksharas) Sa (3 aksharas) bhesa (5 aksharas) mampahi (7 aksharas). As this resembles the kettle drum, udukkai or Damarooka held by Siva, he named it Damarooka Tala. The raga in which Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan chose to render this Pallavi was Poorvakalyani.

  • The verse “Koodaarai vellum seer Govinda” has a special place in the Tiruppavai series and a festival in honour of this verse is celebrated, mispronounced as “Goodaaravalli” in the last days of Margazhi. Special “Sarkarai pongal” is made on that day in all Vaishnavite temples. By custom, this verse is rendered in raga Poorvakalyani.

  • The Dikshitar bi-centinary was celebrated in Mumbai in the year 1975. The Music Academy followed suit, seven months later. A great musician enthralled the audience with his rendition of Dikshitar's Kasi Visalaksheem in raga Gamakakriya. Many listeners felt that they should give up their ghost after listening to this divine song! The concert was held under the aegis of the Music Triangle at Santa Cruz. The vocalist on that great occasion was none other than the doyen, Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

Dr. V V Srivatsa


Select Compositions in Poorvikalyani

Lakshya Gitam

Song Tala Composer
Brindaraka Dhruva tala Venkatamakhin


Ninnukori Khanda jati Ata Sonti Venkatasubayya


Gnanamosagarada Roopaka Tyagaraja
Paripoornakama Roopaka Tyagaraja
Paralokasadhaname Adi Tyagaraja
Meenakshi memudam dehi Adi Muthuswami Dikshitar
Ekamranatham Adi Muthuswami Dikshitar
Kasi Visalakshim Roopaka Muthuswami Dikshitar
Navaratnamalinim Khanda Eka Muthuswami Dikshitar
Ninnuvinaga mari Misra Chapu / Viloma Chapu Syama Sastri
Devadeva jagadeeswara Adi Swati Tirunal
Panchabana tanuhara Adi Swati Tirunal
Allide nammane Adi Purandaradasa
Paradaivam unai Adi Papanasam Sivan
Bodhendra Gurumoorti Adi Papanasam Sivan
Ksheerasagara sayee Adi Papanasam Sivan
Padmavati Ramanam Misra Chapu Utthukkadu Venkatasubbayyar
Bhavayechutam Adi Mysore Vasudevachar
Marachitivemo Roopaka Mysore Vasudevachar
Ramuninammina Misra Chapu Mysore Sadasiva Rao
Gangadhara tripura harana Misra Chapu Mysore Sadasiva Rao
Purandara vinute Misra Chapu Muthaiah Bhagavatar
Samininne Chaturasra Matya Vina Seshanna
Ananda natamaduvar Roopaka Neelakanta Sivan
Maruva neeku Adi Pallavi Seshayyar
Neelakantam Mahadevam Misra Triputa Jayachamaraja Wodeyar
O Rama nee namam Adi Bhadrachala Ramadas
Paramapavana Adi Ramanad Srinivasa Iyengar
Murugan tunai Adi Periyasami Tooran
Unnai marandu Adi Periyasami Tooran
Jhankara sruti Adi Suddhananda Bharati
Madhurapuri Misra Chapu G N Balasubramanyam
Satre vilagi irum pillaai Roopaka Gopalakrishna Bharati
Karanam kettu vadi Adi Gopalakrishna Bharati
Karunakara moorti Triputa Vedanayakam Pillai
Kavaial edukku Adi Lakshmanan Pillai
Manameyor Roopaka Lakshmaman Pillai
Karunakara moorti Adi Lakshmaman Pillai
Mahisha madahara Adi Tulasivanam
Sri Rajarajeswari Khanda Chapu Tanjavur Sankara Iyer

Iniyagilum Ninai        

Adi Ambujam Krishna
Edutturaippay Roopaka Ambujam Krishna
Marayade Khanda Ata Kanakadasa
Endukichapalamu Misra Chapu M D Ramanathan
Avatarayamam Adi Narayana Teertha
Satileni Guruguha Misra Chapu Ponniah Pillai
Ekkalattilum unnai Adi Tiruvarur Ramaswami Pillai
Moyyar kadam Misra Chapu Manikkavachakar
Koodarai vellum Adi Andal (Tiruppavai)


Neematale mayanura Adi Pattabhiramayya

Note: There are several Pallavis in Poorvikalyani. Many Ragamalikas feature Poorvikalyani too. For example, in Bhavayami Raghuramam, one Charanam is sung in Poorvikalyani. Also, there is a Ragamalika sloka of Swati Tirunal in which the line "kulisa sabara kumbhI purvikalyaniretat" is sung in this raga.

Dr. P P Narayanaswami


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