This video was shot early morning at the sandstone-carved Tiger Caves in coastal Tamil Nadu. The crisp sound of the tanpura against the chirping birds breaks the early-morning silence to create a tranquil and meditative aura - a perfect setting for the morning raga Sindhu Bhairavi. K Bharat Sundar’s voice resonates against the sounds of nature and the drone of the tanpura as he introduces the raga with an immersive alap.
Sundar maintains an interesting format in this brief presentation – he sings the alap in a north Indian classical dialect. Then he embarks on the Carnatic kriti, ‘Manadirkku Ugandadu Murugan Roopam,’ which he expands and improvises within a strictly Carnatic format. Composed by Thanjavur V. Sankara Iyer (1924-2021), it is a hymn describing the many facets of Murugan, the God of War.
Sundar’s niravals are emotionally profound; He adds textures to each tonal variation with subtle embellishments and gamakams as he narrates the mighty, colourful and prolific image of Murugan through this devotional raga.
K Bharat Sundar is an award-winning Carnatic vocalist from Chennai. He is seen wearing a ‘tilak’ on his forehead - a tradition in south India that symbolises the synthesis of the most powerful energies of the universe - Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer). The red dot (kumkum) in the middle represents ‘shakti’ or goddess Durga, the destroyer of evil.
The tilak is drawn with the residual ashes of a ‘yagya’ or ‘homa’, a vedic fire ritual that is practiced in India – an act symbolic of sacrifice and detachment to the material world. The horizontal lines are known as ‘vibhuti’ (meaning ‘halo’), a ‘shaivite’ custom that emerged from the worshippers of Shiva. The ashes are a metaphor for the transient nature of human soul - a reminder that one should not get caught up in the material world. The vibhuti indicates embracing the eternal cycle of death and rebirth that forms the foundation of vedic philosophy.
Raag Sindhu Bhairavi is a melody from both the Hindustani and Carnatic systems of classical music. In Hindustani classical system, it belongs to the Asavari thaat. In Carnatic music it is a janya (derived) raga of the 8th melakarta raga Hanumatodi.
Its dominant note or vadi swar is Dha (6th) and the sub-dominant or samvadi swar is Ga (3rd). Ni (7th), Dha (6th) and Re (2nd) are deployed as komal swaras in this raga. Its jati is sampurna, that is, it uses all seven notes in the octave. The arohana and avarohana of this raga are as follows:
S Ṟ G̱ M P Ḏ Ṉ Ṡ
Ṡ Ṉ Ḏ P M G̱ Ṟ S
Sindhu Bhairavi evokes Viraham (separation), Shokam (sorrow), Karunam (compassion) and Bhakti (devotion) rasas.
Raag Sindhu Bhairavi, Thaat: Asavari, Samay: early morning