The Kriti Kalavati by Dikshitar (Soundcloud Link to Recording)

November 22, 2015 at 10:11 pm Leave a comment

The raga kalavati in Hindustani music is described as using the  pentatonic scale

SGPDNb ; its equivalent in Karnatic music is referred to both as Kalavati and as Valaji.  In the Tyagaraja school of ragas, the name Kalavati adorns the raga using the scale SRbMPDS – SDPMGSRbS (attributed to the chakravaga mela (16) ).

Our discussion pertains to Kalavati belonging to the older Ragaganga raga system of Muddu Venkatamakhi that the Dikshitar clan tenaciously followed in all their creations.  Raga Kalavati here is defined as the 31st raganga raga with a murchana that goes as follows:


S Nbb DP M R#GM R# S

Bearing the dissonant pairs of R#G and DNbb – Kalavati is a vivadi raga on two fronts (the R/G and the D/N); it occupies the 31st position in the Venkatamakhi scheme of Raganga Ragas corresponding to the 31st position occupied by Yagapriya in the later scheme of melakarta ragas propounded by Govindacharya.


The word Kalavati refers to ‘the one adorned with the arts’; Kalavati here is none other than sarasvati the Goddess of Knowledge/Wisdom.   Kalavati here is a modern 18th century raga derived from theory. Dikshitar portrays Sarasvati using a series of adjectives essayed using the contour of this raga – with stress on passages such as ‘PD NbbD’ , ‘MR,,S’ , ‘M,R,P’  contrasted with occasional melodic outbursts in ‘M,G,M,P’, ‘MP,GM,’ etc. in lieu of mere scalar passages.

Here is a recording of ‘Kalavati Kamalasana Yuvati’ rendered by Vidita Kanniks in the compilation ‘Shri Sharadambam Bhaje’ released recently at the Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation – Stroudsburg and at the sacred site of Sringeri itself on Vijayadasami 2015.

Dikshitar paints Sarasvati with epithets such as Kalavati, Bharati, vAg vANi, vINA pANi and Sharada. He refers to Sharada as ‘Kashmira Vihara’. The final madhyamakala sahitya passage in the charanam resembles the one in the saurshtra raga kriti varalakshmIm ‘surArchita padAmbuja shobhanA’ (surArchita padAmbuja vikAsinIm) – where the dvitiya akshara (2nd consonant) is ‘ra’ throughout the composition (the charanam in kalavati also uses ‘ra’ as the second consonant throughout). In the kalavati kriti, Dikshitar describes sarasvati as one who delights the heart of Shiva and Guruguha (as he does in the saurashtra kriti as well as purari guruguha chid vilAsini).

Entry filed under: Indian Classical Music, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Swami Dayananda Saraswati – A Rishi of our times Tradition, Classicism and Innovation in Karnatic Music

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


%d bloggers like this: