Rāgānurāga – Part 3

This article is part 3 of 5 in the series Rāganurāga

Hindola is one of my favourite rāgas. The equivalent of Hindola in the Hindustani system is a rāga called Malkauns. Many feel that the manner in which it is rendered in South Indian classical music is different. In my opinion, however, Hindustani musicians have used Malkauns in a more aesthetic, mature, and creative manner as compared to the Carnatic musicians, barring a fewlike Dr. M Balamuralikrishna and Dr. Nagavalli Nagaraj. In fact, there is a view among Carnatic musicians that Hindola is not purely classical but is more suited for the semi-classical genre – light music or film music. In my view, however, the classification of a rāga as classical or otherwise is unimportant. What is more important is the ability of the rāga to captivate the listener.

Musicologists opine that any rāga that doesn’t comprise of Ri (rishaba) and Pa (panchama) cannot effectively stimulate rasa. Hindola, which is devoid of both, has defied the opinion and stands out as an extremely enjoyable rāga.

In Hindustani music, typically, the focus is on the creative ability of the artist but in Carnatic music, the focus shifts to the methodical rendition by the artist and the ability to be creative within a set framework. But I have enjoyed listening to Jugalbandhis involving Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna where one can appreciate the features of both the styles, which combine to produce sublime music. It is only then I could realise how the Carnatic style that is rich in musical embellishments (gamakas) when blended with the śruti-bound, wholesome style of Hindustani, produces an integrated experience.

Many people believe that Hindustani and Carnatic styles have different fundamentals. This prejudice is common both among performers and connoisseurs. But from the perspective of  enjoyment, we should put such prejudices aside and just enjoy both styles equally. Therefore, I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy rāgas that I like in both styles, rendered by various vocalists and instrumentalists.

Saint Tyāgarāja is arguably the best vāggeyakāra (one who composes both lyric and music) that Indian music has seen. His two compositions, Sāmajavara gamana and Manasuloni marmamu, have become extremely popular and have got imprinted in the minds of connoisseurs. While Sāmajavara gamana is like the Angel Falls, Mansuloni marmamu is like the Mānasa-sarovara (Manasarovar). While one composition is like the majestic walk of an elephant from the Sindh region,(‘sāmajavara’ means a great elephant), the other is contemplative, trying to understand the different aspects of the mind; it is like an innocent cow (‘manasuloni marmamu telusuko’ means ‘to understand one’s own mind’). While one is like a peacock during rains, the other is like the swan after the rains have passed. While one is like having a lover in the vicinity, the other is akin to lovers being separated (sambhoga and vipralambha śṛṅgāra). In terms of rhythm, tempo, and musical phraseology, the two contrast each other like the poetic styles of Kālidāsa and Bāṇa.

In Hindustani, Pad lagan, Rangraliya, and Koyaliya bole are a few compositions (often called ‘cheez,’ the Urdu word for ‘item’) that immediately come to mind. In Hindustani, the exposition of a rāga by a musician happens mostly independent of lyrical content. Of course, the tempo/rhythm of the lyric does serve as a guideline. I believe, rather than the meaning of lyrics as in Carnatic music, the beauty of lyrical simplicity comes out better. Apart from Tyāgarāja, in the compositions of the other vāggeyakāras, the lyrical meaning and the emotive appeal of the rāga don’t necessarily resonate with each other. Sometimes even without the music, the lyrics seen in isolation appear ordinary. While this is a critical opinion, it is not far from truth.

The cheez resembles our folk songs even more than that of Gāhāsattasaī, Vajjālagga, Āryāsaptaśatī, Bihārīsattasaī, and Amaruśataka. They are also emotively beautiful.

Perhaps without Kṣetrajña (Kṣetrayya), Annamācārya and Purandaradāsa, Carnatic music would have been devoid of such beauty.

Though Hindustani items (cheez) are short, they give a sense of beauty in suggestion. Speciality of these items is in their simplicity, lucidity, brevity, and most importantly, the ability to aid in the enhancement of the music. The lyrics of the cheez enhance the dominant and transitory emotions (sthāyī and sañcārī bhāvas) and take us to a different world, which is beyond expression. Anyway, not all items are like this; some of the recent ones are less than ordinary. In any case, in my opinion, the Hindustani cheez is best suited for creative music. Let us come back to Hindola.

Hindola has kampita gamaka (oscillatory transition) that does not sound pleasing in isolation. Using kampita gamakas separately, masking the flow of svaras in the rāga is a wrong practise that has been started by those who have limited vocal capacities. I would go on to say that those who don’t have the vocal range to traverse all the three octaves should refrain from being performers. That is like a dancer who cannot attain perfect body position or an avadhāni who cannot speak well or doesn’t have extempore creativity. Those with such vocal limitation can only hope to be learned in music but cannot be performers. Fortunately many musicians of recent years are trying to better themselves of such shortcomings. But to cater to and to be recognised by a few prestigious audiences of Madras, in the name of gamakas, artists are oblivious to śruti and sing without a sense of aesthetics – such practises are a bane to music. Among these, if the jāru-gamakas (gliding transitions) aren’t handled properly, then the music itself slips. To handle such ragas, without integral presentation but only with momentary attractive phrases, is difficult. Of course the above can be applied to all rāgas, but in well-established/formatted rāgas like Bhairavi or Shankarabharana or Varali or Nattai, special phrases corresponding to respective rāga, which occur repetitively can be observed by listeners. The rāgas like Hindola, Brindavani, Sindhubhairavi, and Dwijavanti are not like this. They can pose a tough challenge to an experienced artist too. Instead of wandering about in search of the melody of each svara, to be able to produce good, entertaining, but purely emotive music is necessary.

The scale of Hindola is “sa-ga-ma-dha-ni”. Ma-dha-ni are the jīvasvaras. The descending slide from ni, tonal stagnancy in dha, reversal at ma and the flight from sa to ga provide unimaginable musical effect. The contemplative gāndhāra and the majesty of ṣaḍja provide Hindola a sense of sensual grandeur, while being peaceful. Each svara in itself contributes to the attractiveness and tranquillity of the rāga. There is compactness in its delivery, agony in its movements and grandeur in its persuasion. A mixture of sublime and sensual emotions constitute Hindola.  Moreover, since there are no secondary notes, all svaras provide special but clear impression of themselves.

When the ni of Hindola changes, it becomes Chandrakauns. But in Chandrakauns the charm of Hindola gives way to agony. The tranquility experienced in Hindola is experienced as pain in Chandrakauns.

Jayantasri is another allied rāga, with its special phrase of ma-pa-ma in the descending scale. Just as Hindola, Jayantasri is also a derivative of the twentieth Mela (main, complete scale), Natabhairavi. While the ārohaṇa of Hindola and Jayantasri are the same, the avarohaṇa has an addition of panchamam and the twist created by ma-pa-ma phrase (Sa-ni-dha-ma-pa-ma-ga-sa). The additional svaras though limit the scope of the rāga, provide the effect of persuasion and softness in agony.



This is the translation of an essay in Kannada by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh from his anthology Kalakautuka. Translated by Vishwanath Chandrashekara and edited by Arjun Bharadwaj and Hari Ravikumar.



Dr. Ganesh is a 'shatavadhani' and one of India’s foremost Sanskrit poets and scholars. He writes and lectures extensively on various subjects pertaining to India and Indian cultural heritage. He is a master of the ancient art of avadhana and is credited with reviving the art in Kannada. He is a recipient of the Badarayana-Vyasa Puraskar from the President of India for his contribution to the Sanskrit language.



Vishwanath is a software engineer by profession. He is deeply interested in Indian history, art, and classical music.

Prekshaa Publications

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...