Mela raga #51

Raga: Kamavardhini
Chakra: Brahma
Uttaranga: Go (3)
Swaras: Sa Re1 Ga3 Ma2 Pa Dha1 Ni3 Sa

This raga is very similar to Mayamalavagowla, the first raga taught to students of Carnatic music. The only difference is in the Ma (Prati madhyama rather than Shuddha madhyama, i.e. 1 semitone higher). This one change, however, gives the raga an entirely different flavor, somewhat more mystical and eerie.

The raga has an interesting and complicated history. (This will get hairy, and if you havent yet, you need to read The Melakartha ragas and Katapayadi Sutra first). Today, the raga Pantuvarali is identical to Kamavardhini in scale (the nadas, or patterns, are slightly different), and the raga Shubhapantuvarali, the 45th Mela, is completely different. But Kamavardhini itself only came into existence in the 19th century when the Melakartha system was being codified. Prior to this, Kamavardhini was known as Ramakriya and Pantuvarali referred to present-day Shubhapantuvarali.

As time went on, Ramakriya began to be referred to more and more as Pantuvarali; various Thyagaraja (a major composer in Carnatic music, comparable to Bach or Beethoven) songs in present-day Kamavardhini are referred to in texts of a similar period as either Ramakriya or Pantuvarali. Then, when the Melakartha system was codified, prefixes were added on to old raga names or entirely new names were invented in order for it all to conform to the Katapayadi Sutra. Ramakriya was one of the ragas given a new name, Kamavardhini, while Pantuvarali (as in, the 45th Mela) was given the Shubha- prefix, so "Pantuvarali" itself didn't officially refer to anything.

Unofficially, however, "Pantuvarali" began to gain currency as a synonym for Kamavardhini, and today certain songs are always referred to, by custom, as being in Pantuvarali and others in Kamavardhini, even though the ragas are technically the same. Because of the different songset that the two ragas have, however, the patterns in which the two ragas are sung are slightly different and there is a discernably different flavor to Pantuvarali as opposed to Kamavardhini.

Back to The Melakartha ragas.