Identity of a Raga: Part 1 – Reethigowla

– Ajay Parasuraman

Identifying the raga of a composition requires ample kelvi njaanam. Listening to a lot of songs will help you know better the usages of swaras in the raga.

Each raaga has it’s own prayoga (usages) of swaras which give it a distinct identity, one that distinguishes it from all the other raagas — much like what a signature is to a person. Every raaga will have it’s characteristic jeeva swaras (lit. swaras that give life) with which you can differentiate between any two raagas. The jeeva swaras are the ones that breathe life into a raaga. The jeeva swaras, as you will see, form an integral part of the main’ prayogas in the raga .

Let’s have a look at one raaga, it’s jeeva swaras and prayogas. Reethigowla, say.

Reethigowla is the janya raga of Kharaharapriya, the 22nd Melakarta raga. (The Kafi thaat of Hindustani music is the equivalent of Kharaharapriya.)

A bit about the raagas aarohan and avarohan:

Aa: S G2 R2 G2 M1 N2 D2 M1 N2 N2 S

Av: S N2 D2 M1 G2 M1 P M1 G2 R2 S

The variant of Reethigowla in asampoorna paddhathi is with a shuddha daivatham. We term this loosely as Reethigowla. In the Dikshitar scale of Raagas, this raga is <sometimes> called Naari-Reethigowlai.

However the blueprint N2 N2 S gives Reethigowla a unique personality, the movements of which are very characteristic and identifiable.

Essence of the raga: The essence of the raaga lies in the prayoga N N S, G M P M G R S, to point out a few.

Watch these renditions of Subbaraya Shastry’s Janani Ninnuvina :
1. By Sudha Raghunathan (Vocal)

2. By Bonala Sankara Prakash on the Veena

As the etymology claims, the raga has a power to direct. The name of the raga comes from the Sanksrit word for rule/way(as in syntax of doing things), thus denoting a sense of direction.

Listen to these amazing renditions by Abhishek Raghuram — he happens to be the prodigious grandson of the Late. Sri Palghat Raghu. Do note how he uses the swaras to beautify the raga (in Video 2).

Video 1
Video 2

And after that dosage of Carnatic, listen to this song, one you — all south indians, atleast — must be familiar with.

Kangal Irandal – Subramanyapuram – Composer: James Vasanthan

And this: Chidiya Tu Hoti To – Nayak – Composer: A R Rahman

And this: Sudum Nilavu – Thambi – Composer: Vidyasagar

And this Ilaiyaraja song: Thalayai Kuniyum Thaamarayai – Oru Odai Nadhiyagiradhu

And: “Chinnakannan Azhaikiraan” in Kavikkuyil sung by the Balamurali Krishna

And: Rama kanavemira from Swathi Muthyam

And: Meettatha Oru Veenai – Poonthottam – Composer: Ilayaraja

And finally: Naadha Vinodham – Saagara Sangamam – Composer: Ilayaraja

S0 the next time you listen to a movie song, you should hopefully be able to tell whether it’s in Reethigowla or not 🙂

And if the above videos were not enough, here are some more classical compositions in Reethigowla:

* Thyagaraja:     Nannu vidachi kadhalaku raa
+ Bale baalendhu bhooshini
+ Dwaithamu sukhama
+ Raga rathna maalikache
+ Chera rAvademi raa
* Subbaraya Shastry: Janani ninnuvina
* Papanasam Shivan: Tatvam ariya tarama
* Swathi Thirunal: Paripaalaya maam
* Ambujam Krishnan: Guruvaryoorappane appan
* Mutthuswamy Dikshithar: Sri neelothpala nayike

Reference: Kamala Keertana

smpcadd says:

Mazha Nilaavu (1982) and Aattakkalaasham (1983) are Raveendran Master’s earlier work not later. I was mistaken in the previous post.


smpcadd says:

Pudava Njoriyum Puzhathan Theeram, Pulakamaniyum Mala than Oram.. from Omanikkan Ormmavakkaan (1985) is another one in Reethi Gowla Raagam. Composed by Great Raveendran Master. Written by Poovachal Khader. Sung by K J Yesudas and Lathika.

I was wondering why this song has resemblance in the songs Malarum Kiliyum Oru Kudumbam (Aattakkalaasham) and Rithumathiyaay (Mazhanilaavu). Both Are Raveendran Master’s later work. Both composed in JOG. Jog is in the family of Kaafi Thaatt. After searching and reading this article my doubt cleared.

Vignesh says:

The above mentioned song “nadha vinodhangal” from Saagara Sangaman does not fall under “Reethi Gowla” raaga.. This song pallavi comes in Sri Ranjani & charanam composed in Hamsanandhi.