Kedaragaula is a janya of Kambhoji mela. It is sampurna; nishada is the graha nyasa and amsa; ‘Geyo yama turiyake’ an evening raga. Tulaja says it is an upanga raga. All these details given by Tulaja are unquestionably true in current lakshaya as well. No doubt nishada is very important amsa and nyasa. It is not found in usage as graha as much. As a matter of fact, rishaba is most powerful and enlightening graha, amsa and nyasa for Kedaragaula. Why it has been overlooked by Tulaja is not known. Further, the expression: ‘ asyarohe nisadagandharalanghanam’ looks quite strange.

The deletion of gandhara in Kedaragaula in the ascent is acknowledged and established fact. But where is the nishada [deleted in the ascent? Though Tulaja says that Nishada] is langhana in the arohana, there is hardly one illustrative phrase of Tulaja where nishada is langhana. The illustrative phrases are as follows:-‘Sa sa ni dha pa ni ni dha pa ma ga ri – ri ma pa ni Ni dha ni sa ni dha pa ma pa ni sa’ – Ayitta prayogas. In the phrases ‘ni dha ni sa’ and ‘pa ni ni sa’ in the ascending order, nishada is evident. The phrase ‘ni dha ni sa’ prohibited now. Further, two more phrases as cited by Tulaja deserve only to be discarded. They are ‘pa dha ni sa ri ma ma pa’ and ‘ga ma pa n dha pa dha ni sa’. Thus the statements made by Tulaja and his illustrative phrases are quite at variance with each other. It is a matter for regret that Tulaja has not noticed the dominating influence of rishabha of Kedaragaula at all. It is quite possible that Kedaragaula had well – established its melodic worth in the present form by the middle of the 18th century A.D. itself.

Tulaja gives another phrase under grahasva khanda as ‘dha pa ma ga ma dha dha ni ni’. Tulaja can be held guilty of having disfigured and caricatured Kedaragaula, one of the most melodious ragas of the present day. Barring the above quoted few phrases, the rest of the phrasings of Tulaja are in perfect line with the scale-structure of Kedaragaula and the melodic entity thereof as it prevails today.

Before embarking upon the academic history of the origin, evolution and development of Kedaragaula, if will do well to ponder over how Subbarama Dikshitar deals with the raga. It may in this connection be particularly noted that the great Karvetnagar brothers, Govindasamayya and Koovanasamayya, the doyens of varna composition, have composed a varna in Kedaragaula, in the latter part of the 17th century. This varna is given composed a varna in Kedaragaula, in the latter part of the 17th century. This varna is given in notation in Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini from which we get a correct, compact and contemporaneous picture of many of the most important ragas of present day.

Subbarama Dikshitar says it is a ranganga raga – 28th mela (Banu – Bahu) with ‘ri gu ma pa nu’ as the svara mnemonics. The mention of ‘nu’ here is definitely a print mistake. It cannot be ‘nu’. It should be ‘ni’, indicative of Kaisiki nishada. Then only it can be ‘bhu’ mela of a chakra. All these details cannot be ascribed to Venkatamakhi. It is evidently the work of Muddu Venkatamakhi on whom alone Subbbarama Dikshitar depended for all the knowledge of melas and ragas. As usual, Subbarama Dikshitar cites a lakshana sloka under the authorship of the ‘so called’ Venkatamakhi:

Kedaragaulah sampurnastravohe
gadhavarjitah nisadagraha
samyuktah sayankale prgiyate’

The name Kedarigaula is evidently wrong, as printed in the Tamil translation of the Sangitha Sampradaya Pradarsini, brought out by the Madras Music Academy. The correct version should only be ‘kedaragaula’, as given in the Anubandha printed at the end of the edition of the text of the Chaturdandi Prakasika, printed and published by the Music Academy.

At the very outset it may be pointed out that Kedaragaula was not a mela t all to the real Venkatamakhi, the genuine author of Chaturdandi Prakasika. Venkatamakhi mentions only Kambhoji as a mela though in the raga chapter of the same work Chaturdandi Prakasika he says, while describing Narayanagaula, that the raga, Narayanagaula is janya of Kedaragaula, which is absolutely contradictory to the content of the text of the Chaturdadi Prakasika, (Raga Prakarana adhyayasloka – 102). But in the same raga chapter we find Kedaragaula as a janya of Kambhoji mela in sloka 98.

‘Kedaragaulah sampurnah

How could the same author treat one and the same raga as a janya raga in sloka 98 and as a mela in sloka 102 of the same chapter: Again we take refuge in M.S. Ramaswamy Iyer’s defence-“What sort of copy of the manuscript copied and recopied by different indifferent copyists…”

In the Anubanda portion printed at the end of the edition of the text of Chaturdandi Prakasika brought out by the Music Academy, Madras, in sloka 7 we find Harikedaragaula listed as a raganga raga which has connoted a mela both to Muddu Venkatamakhin and his faithful follower Subbarama Dikshitar. Again in the same portion, in sloka 41, Kedaragaula is mentioned as a rakti raga (Second in the list, the first being Bhairavi). As per current thought ragas like Todi, Sankarabharana, Kharaharapriya, Harikambhoji, Kalyani etc. could both be a mela and rakti raga, mela in the sense of a scale structure, a faithful rendering of the inherent notes in the ascent and descent in a regular order, but a raga in the sense that it is something more than mere bony stuff, but an entity in full flesh and blood. This analogy does not hold good in the case of Venkatamakhi or Subbarama Dikshitar. To them, even janya ragas have been raganga ragas, but how? It is not intelligible to a current thinker. This however could be corroborated with the 43rd sloka of the Anubandha portion of the text of Chaturdandi Prakasika ‘madhyamavatidhanyasi……… raktiragakah’.

After quoting the lakshana sloka found in the Anubanda portion of the Chaturdandi Prakasika, Subbarama Dikshitar gives further details as follows: Murchana : ‘sa ri ma pa ni sa – sa ni dha pa ma ga ri sa’ Raganga – sampurna – nishada graha – rakti raga – gandhara and nishada are varjya in the arohana – an evening raga’. Note: – In Kedaragaula, rishabha, madhyama, nishada and gandhara give much of ranjakatva. Rishabha is a nyasa. In some contexts, nishada is a graha (eduppu svara as Subbarama Dikshitar put it). A prasiddha raga, it has come down through lakshyas of our ancestors.

The following few observations may be worthy of note. While mentioning the ranjaka of jiva svaras of Kedaragaula, Subbarama Dikshitar places gandhara last. Gandhara is of course used profusely in Kedaragaula in the descent. But it enjoys no prominence, Bahutva is also an aspect of amsa as per purvacharyas (Sarangadeva etc.)

bahulatvam prayogesu vyapakam tvamsalaksanam – Sangita Ratnakara.

But, in Kedaragaula, gandhara looks almost and insignificant note. On very many occassions we come across a phrase like ‘Ri Ri Ri ga ma Ga ma ri’. Here we find gandhara occurring not only in the arohana krama, but also as a dirgha swara (elongated note). Gandhara can never be a graha or nyasa. That is certain. The phrase ‘ri ga ri sa’ as in ‘ma pa ni sa ri ga ri sa’ looks very common in lakshya. These point of note are well-illustrated in his sanchari by Subbarama Dikshitar. In the lakshya gita (in fact it is lakshana gita in modern parlance) the raga hovers for the most part in higher regions. (tara sthayi).

Similarly the position of dhaivata also does not look very strong at all in Kedaragaula. In the descent the occurance of dhaivata is inevitable. However the phrase ‘ni dha ni pa’ is seen only in Narayanagaula. Phrases like ‘ri ma pa dha pa ma ga ri’ are not uncommon in Kedaragaula. Dhaivata, like Ghandara cannot be a graha or nyasa. Very rarely in a phrase like ‘ma pa Dha; Pa;; ma ga Ri’, the dhaivata is elongated a little. The above phrase constitute the pep of the raga, with which Ramnad (poochi) Srinivasa Iyengar has commenced his immortal composition in Kedaragaula beginning with the words ‘Saragunapalimpa’.

To trace Kedaragaula prior to 15th, 16th centuries A.D. has been found futile. Kedaragaula is frequently met with in the sankirtanas of Tallapaka Annamacharya (1424-1503) A.D. An example is ‘Rammanave vani rammanave’ – in the Sringara Sankirtana – Vol II of the T.T.D. Publications. Naturally the Karnataka composers could have noticed kedaragaula. Purandaradasa (1484-1564 A.D.) was a junior contemporary of Annamacharya.

Ever since the genus-species systems merged, kedaragaula has held the status of mela along with Kambhoji. That is a mystery though both kambhoji and Kedaragaula should fall under the same clan. Prior to the 14th century A.D. we do not come across Kedaragaula in the medieval literature. Kedaragaula is not to be found either in Narada’s Sangita Makaranda or in Parsvadeva’s Sangita Samaya Sara or in Sarngadeva’s Sangita Ratnakara. But in the pans of Tevaram of the 6th-8th centuries A.D. we have one ‘gandhara panchamam’, which is acknowledged to correspond to Kedaragaula. It is classified as a pagal pann (South Indian Music Book VI by late Prof. Sambamurthy). Incidentally it may be mentioned here that we have one of the vikrta jatis of madhyama grama as Gandhara Panchami. Similarity of nomenclature may be one of the inferences to arrive at a possible premise. But it may be far and far away from a convincing conclusion. The madhyamagrama is known to have been the primordial or fundamental scale in the music of the ancient Tamils and it is Harikambhoji in scale structure.

We get the treatment of Kedaragaula through the Sangita Sudha of Govinda Dikshitar on the authority of Sangita Sara of Holy Vidyaranya, as found in pages 244 and 245 of the edition of Sangita Sudha, edited by late T.V. Subba Rao and Pandit Subramanya Sastri and printed and published by the Madras Music Academy as follows: Kedaragaula is a mela with shadja, madhyama and panchama as suddha svaras, the two savars rishabha and dhaivata as panchasruti, gandhara as antara and nishada as kaisiki; Nishada is the graha, amsa and nyasa. These details are endorsed in toto by Venkatamakhi and Tulaja. But to these two, Kedaragaula was not a mela, but only a janya and Kambhoji mela. Govinda Dikshitar then gives the akshiptika, ragavardhani, shadja sthayi, madhyama sthayi and rishabha sthayi, vartani and nyasa. The essence of all the treatment confirms that the melodic form of Kedaragaula has been well established.

To Ramamatya (1550 A.D.) Kedaragaula was one of his 20 melas. He mentions Narayanagaula as the one janya of Kedaragaula. Ramamatya gives shadja, Madhyama and panchama as suddha, rishaba and dhaivati as panchasruti, gandhara as cyuta madhyama gandara and nishada as cyutha shadja nishada. When Ramamatya describes Kedaragaula as a raga in the Raga chapter, he says that it is a sampurna raga with nishada as graha, amsa and nyasa and it is to be sung in the fourth yama of the day. Why and how Ramamatya has given the gandhara and nishada of kedaragaula respectively as cyuta madhyama gandha and cyuta shadja nishada is the question. These two, first of all, do not constitute svarasthanas. They are only sruti sthanas – a prama sruti (81/80) higher than their respective preceding notes, antara gandhara and kakali nishada. There is no occasion for gandhara to rise up to the level of cyutamadhyama gandhara in Kedaragaula. As a matter of fact theat gandhara of Kedaragaula is docile and has not assertive position though its occurrence is inevitable. As far as nishada is concerned, the nishada may rise up a little (as in phrases ‘ri ma pa Ni sa;’ and NiS; ni dha dha pa’ as occuring in Thiruvottiyur Thyagayyer’s Adi tala tana varna ‘Sami daya’), but never so near as kakali nishada, not to speak of cyuta shadja nishanda, the level of which is definitely much above kakali nishada and almost near shadja. In rest of the places the nishada is only kaisiki, in its scheduled position.

In this connection it ma be mentioned in passing, for whatever it is worth, what Ramamatya says about the sets of melas taking antara gandhara, cyuta madhyama gandhara, kakali nishada and cyuta shadja nishada. In slokas 63-0 of the Mela prakarna of Svara Mela Kalanidhi (a publication of Annamalai University with an Introduction and translation of the text by late M.S. Ramaswamy Iyer), Ramamatya says that the melas taking cyuta madhyama gandhara and cyuta shadja nishada could as well be merged with those melas taking antara gandhara and kakali nishada in which case the melas would be only 15 and even then Kedaragaula would remain a mela, while Kambhoji would get implied in Saranganata. Those are all whimsical theories. Moreover Ramamatya has commited another blunder. According to him the two melas Saranganata and Kedaragaula become identical in svarasthanas and differ only in the matter of graha, amso and nyasa. It may however be true that despite similar structure of any two scales, they may differ as ragas with regard to the highlighting of different svaras as graha, amsa and nyasa. This can practically be illustrated. It is quite possible to establish the individuality of Sama and Arabhi with phrases deleting nishada. Whatever it be, Saranganata and Kedaragaula should now have been equated with one another in as much as Saranganata is entirely a different raga, falling under Gaula or Malavagaula clan. Venkatamakhi however found fault only with one aspect of Kedaragaula that Ramamatya was utterly at fault in having give cyuta shadja nishada, whereas, he says, it takes only kaisiki nishada. Venkatamakhi goes to the extent of reproaching Ramamatya that those who are guided by Ramamatya’s mela system would fall only into the wells in the forest.

None of these treatise-writers has either been totally right or totally wrong. Each one commits mistakes in his own way and a reader has got to be scrupulously careful in guarding himself against such errors.

From the 18th century onwards, Kedaragaula has retained its melodic form and individuality and has not go disfigured.

Courtesy : Music Academy and Ganakala Siri