Shanmukha is the handsome god of war in the Hindu pantheon. Son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, he is also known as Kartikeya or Murugan. The word ‘priya’ means ‘favourite’ and evokes a fascinating narrative for the Carnatic raga Shanmukhapriya. Perhaps, it was regarded as Lord Shanmukha’s favourite raga or was created and dedicated to him.
In her vivid and husky voice, the distinguished Aruna Sairam gives a powerful rendition of Shanmukhapriya. She captures the majesty of this masculine raga in an elaborate, sonorous alapana. She dips into the lower octave, her voice gravelly and resolute, and soars effortlessly to the higher octaves portraying an ecstasy of emotions. The tanam is introduced in a groovy array of syllables revealing the exuberant and mystique gait of Shanmukhapriya.
Jyotsna Srikanth grasps the pallavi immediately after its introduction, relaying her own account of the composition. Her solos are heartfelt and amply project the tensity of Shanmukhapriya. Sairam is accompanied on the mridangam by Patri Satish Kumar and RN Prakash on the ghatam. The duo project a perfectly synchronised treatment of Adi talam, enriching Sairam’s niravals (tonal improvisations) through the first, second and third kalams (stages of tonal improvisations). Wading the dazzling energies of Sairam’s performance, they build a crescendo with a rumbling taniavarthanam towards the end.
Shaṇmukhapriya is the 56th meḷakarta in the sampurna meḷa system. It is the second raga in the tenth chakra (Disi chakra). This raga was known by the name Chamara in the asampurna mela system. The swaras present in this raga are sadja, chatusruti risabha, sadharana gandhara, prati madhyama, panchama, suddha dhaivata, kaisiki niṣadavi. It’s arohana and avarohana are
S R2 G2 M2 P D1 N2 Ṡ - Ṡ N2 D1 P M2 G2 R2 S.
It is a murchanakarakaa mela.
It gives rise to three other ragas through the process of grahabheda or modal shift of tonic. The three ragas are Sulini from risabha, Dhenuka from pancama and Chitrambari from dhaivata. All the swaras in this raga are ragachaya swaras. Besides ṣaḍja and pancama, risabha, dhaivata and nisada are nyasa swaras. G-D, G-N are pairs of vadi-samvadi swaras.
It can portray rasas like karuna (compassion), sringara (romance), hasya (joy) effectively and also convey the feeling of devotion or bhakti bhava.
Aruna Sairam (vocal)
Jyotsna Srikanth (violin)
Patri Satish Kumar (mridangam)
RN Prakash (ghatam)
Priya Parkash (tanpura)
Ragam tanam pallavi in Raga Shanmukhapriya