Identity of a Raga (Part 5) – Gowri Manohari

Gowri Manohari imageFirst of all, apologies for the long long break in this section. We hope to be more regular in future, now with a new guest writer onboard. So here’s introducing Krithika Arvind

Krithika is a performing vocalist from Chennai. She is a disciple of (Bombay) Smt Jayashri Ramnath. She holds an MPhil in Indian Music . Apart from concert performances, she records vocals for various dancers and teaches music. 

Let’s discuss raga Gowri Manohari this week, of which the Hindustani equivalent is Patdeep.

Gowri Manohari is a sampoorna raga, meaning it contains all the seven swaras. It is known as Gowri VeLavaLi in the Dikshitar school of Melakartha. It is a less popular raga when compared to the other ragas in its group – Keeravani and Karaharapriya. This might be mainly because of the fact that the first half of the raga resembles that of keeravani and the second half resembles that of Shankarabharanam, both of which are heavy and popular. The phrase RPGR N which occurs quite a few times in this raga, reminds us of Kapi too. Secondly, the intervals between the notes do not give way to much improvisation in a way unique to this raga. Having said that, the raga derives its uniqueness from specific passages of swaras. Phrase like PDNRNDPG, RGMPDNSRGR distinguish this raga from its allies.

Gowri Manohari is a very simple and subtly evocative raga. The Nishadam (higher variety- kAkali) , and the Rishabam in the higher octave are jeeva swaras. The Gandharam is rendered both with a gamaka(an oscillation) and plainly. This raga is mostly rendered in medium and fast paces.

There are only a few compositions in Carnatic music in this raga. One of the famous compositions of Saint Thyagaraja is in this raga – Gurulekha Yetuvanti in praise of the Guru (teacher). This krithi is rendered as salutation to the Guru before the start of the Thyagaraja Pancharatna rendition. Below is a rendition by Vijay Siva.

As we can hear in this video, the emphasis is laid more on the Rishabam of tAra sthAyi (higher octave). That is where the singer improvises to a large extent. Other krithis are Garuda Gamana Vasudeva by Thyagaraja, Devi Gowri of Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavathar, Kaumari by Dikshitar, Paaraai AruL by Koteeswara Iyer and Gowri Manohara by Papanasam Sivan.

There are quite a few famous songs in old Tamil movies which are composed in this raga, most of them composed by Ilayaraja. He has successfully portrayed different colours of this raga through his compositions. One such interesting piece is Adhi KAlai Nilave from Urudhi Mozhi. The song is interesting in that, throughout the song the dhaivatham is avoided. Also, this song is set to Khanda ChApu (cycle of fives) which is a rarity in film music.

Bhoopalam Isaikkum from Thooral Ninnu Pochu and Solai Poovil from Vellai Roja are two other Raja songs in this raga. In the song Kannan Naalum, the composer presents another varied treatment of the raga. Muthamil Kaviye Varuga from Dharmathin Thalaivan is one more of Raja’s Gowri Manohari classics.

KV Mahadevan composed the famous Paattum Naane from Tiruvilaiyadal in this raga.

Another song Gowri manohariyai, composed by MS Vishwanathan, uses the name of the raga as its beginning.

And here are a couple of Malayalam songs that are composed in the raga, second of which has Ouseppachan adapting Western classical compositions from Brahms and Mozart, and even a segment from the Naattai-based Thyagaraja krithi JagadAnanda KAraka into Gowri Manohari.


All these songs give us a picture of the different shades of the raga.

More than its equivalent, Patdeep qualifies as a janyam of Gowrimanohari. It skips the Rishabam and Dhaivatham in the ascent while takes all the seven notes in the descent. So the phrase MPN is crucial and more evocative than Gowrimanohari. Generally this phrase is rendered very slowly as it is the highlight of the raga. The strains along that phrase in the film songs Kanna Varuvayaa and in the line Tum Bhi Na Ho in the song Saaz Ho Tum Aawaz Hoon Main are fine examples. Another song in this ragam composed by Ilayaraja is Doorathil Naan Kanda from the movie Nizhalgal which is a masterpiece.

There is a beautiful Malayalam song Veena Paadum Eenamayi in this raga sung by KS Chitra – a totally different handling of this raga. The musician is Kannur Rajan. Hindi composer Naushad, in his only Malayalam soundtrack Dhwani, created the Patdeep-based Anuraaga Lola Gaathri improvising on his own Jis Raat Ke Khwaab Aaye from the unreleased movie Habba Khan.

A rare raga, but a definitely beautiful one!!

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