Saturday 25 July 2009

Ragas/Seasons

The greatest western thinker who related to the art of music is Herbert Read. He observed , "all art tends to music".Human being is inseparable from his surroundings. At times it happens that the day, the night, the morning, the evening, the season, the nature, the cloud, the thunder, the lightening, the twilight, the moon and the like exercise an influence on the consciousness of the man and take him into a mood. This mood gives rise to a rasa. Every possible kind of rasa in relation to these circumstantial surroundings has been found to be conveyed through a raga. So, the world of ragas has all the variety of life and experience. This is most true about Indian Music. Seasons,or the Rithus are a dimension of the vast game of life and creation.
"BHRUGOR-RUTHUVASANTHASCHA KUJABHAAVANOSCHA GREESHMAKAHA
CHANDRASYA VARSHAA VIGNYEYAA SHARACHCHAIVA THADHAA VIDAHA
HEMANTHOPI GURORGNYEYAHA SHANESTHU SHISHIRO DWIJAA."
"Venus's Rithu is Vasantha,of Mars and Sun is the Greeshma, the Moon's is Varsha, Mercury's is Sharad,and,O'Wise, Hemangtha is known to be of Jupiter, and Saturn's is Shishira,O'Twice born!"-(Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra,Nature and Form of the Grahas,45-46. )
Rithu refers to a period of time that is fixed for some special occasion, in this case, the occasion of the seasons.Six rithus are acknowledged. Each rithu lasts two Saura, solar months.A saura month is thirty degrees of the Sun's movement in respect to the equinoxes and solstices; it is the same as the tropical month of the well-known Sun Signs are derived.In fact, the saura months are known as Aries,Taurus, Gemini etc. in the Astronomical Siddhanthas in exactly the same manner as the Sun Signs.
Shishira "cold"-Saturn-Sun in western Sagittarius and Capricorn,(November 20th to January 20th).According to the Hindu Lunar months,they are Margashira and Pausha.
Vasantha "brilliant"-Venus-Sun in western Aquarius and Pisces,(January 20th to March 20th).According to Hindu Lunar months,they are Magha and Phalguni.

Grishma "hot"-Sun and Mars-Sun in western Aries and Taurus, (March 20th to May 20th).According to Hindu Lunar months they are Chaithra and Vaisakha.

Varsha "rainy"-Moon- Sun in western Gemini and Cancer, (May 20th to July 20th).According to Hindu Lunar month they are Jyeshta and Ashaadha.

Sharad "mature"-Mercury- Sun in western Leo and Virgo, (July 20th to September 20th).According to Hindu Lunar months they are Shraavana and Bhaadrapada.

Hemantha "frost"-Jupiter-Sun in western Libra and Scorpio, (September 20th to November 20th).According to Hindu Lunar months they are Ashwina and Kaarthika.

The Sun is a secondary ruler of Grishma though the most important graha in respect to the seasons due to being their cause.Saturn rules the coldest part of the year.The season of saturn is colder than the season of Jupiter because the earth is actually further from the Sun in its revolution during that time. Venus rules the generative and brilliant-flowered period that roughly equates to spring.Mars rules the hot months during which the Sun gets hotter and hotter each day.The Moon rules the rainy months that water the crops.Mercury rules the period during which the crops and fruits mature.Jupiter rules the frosty months during which the leaves fall and the cold begins to set in."-ERNST WILHELM.

Even the cycles of time are connected with Chakras in the body according Kundalini Yoga theory. The highest Chakra called Sahasrara is beyond time and is dependent on the soul's journey towards higher spiritual levels. The lower six Chakras get mild activation during the seasons - Agna Chakra in Vasanth Rithu (spring), Vishuddha in Greeshma Rithu (summer), Anahatha in Varsha Rithu (rainy season in India), Manipura in Sarad Rithu (bright moon light), Swadhisthana in Hemantha Rithu (pre-winter), and Muladhara in Sisira Rithu (coldest winter).
Ragas for the six seasons:-

SHISHIR RITHU:-Shishir is one of the thousand names appearing in Vishnu Sahasranamam.This name originates from the civilization of the Indus Valley and the Gangetic Plains.It refers to the forthcoming winter season and the winter winds.

In the english months between November 20th to January 20th, the most auspicious Dhanur masam (Margazhi Masam) takes place.The atmosphere is charged with religious fervour.The lovely cool breeze that is so hard to experience during most of the year all over India, fills the atmosphere to touch everybody's heart with sublime feelings!People wake up early in the morning to offer prayers in their homes and temples.Women are filled with excitement to decorate their front yards with colourful rangoli. People relish every moment of the cool, lovely winter.
Ragas that are generally prescribed for Shishir Rithu are :-Nattaikuranji (Carnatic)-Rageshri(Hindusthani) and Sriranjani(Carnatic)-Bageshri(Hindusthani).Mayamalava gowla (Carnatic)-Bhairav (Hindusthani) is also assigned for this Rithu.
My manodharma brings to life Arabhi,Sudhdha Saveri,Suddha Dhanyasi, Abheri etc.
VASANTHA RITHU:- This season is known as the "King of seasons!" because it brings in freshness and novelty.Plants and trees start waking up from their deep slumber.Yellow is the predominant colour of this season,indicating the auspiciousness of the season.Birds that flew away during the extreme winters,slowly start coming back and the atmosphere is filled with the various tones of different birds chirping.Spring has arrived!The inexplicable play of Nature in all its splendour and glory beckons even kite-players.Vasanth Rithu is the season for kites and children play gleefully with their kites.

This season is meant for love and romance. Mythology says that Manmatha induced love between Lord Shiva and Parvathi during the season of spring.While Lord Shiva was in meditation,the lovely Parvathi,dressed in yellow ,with yellow flowers decorating her hair and a garland of yellow flowers in her hands,presented herself to Lord Shiva.Lord Shiva who was in deep meditation was subjected to the arrow of love aimed by the God of Kama,Manmatha and He became drunk with love for Parvathi.Even Kalidasa's "Kumara Sambhavam" mentions Vasantha Rithu as the season that kindled the fire of desire between the divine couple.

Even Sri Adi Sankaracharya in His 6th sloka in Soundarya Lahari has described the spring season associating it with Lord Manmatha!"
"Dhanuh Paushpam Maurvi Madhukaramayi Pancha Visikhah
Vasanthah Saamantho Malayamarudaayo Dhanarathaha
Thathaapyekaha Sarvam Himagirisuthe Kaamapi Krupaam
Apaangaaththe Labdhvaa Jagadidamanango Vijayathe!"
(Oh Daughter of the snow-clad Himalaya mountain!Kama deva,the God of love,has only a bow made of flowers,with its string comprised of a cluster of honeybees,and arrows barely five.The spring season is his assistant and the southern breeze his war-chariot.Yet,with such frail equipment,bodiless and alone though he be,manmatha conquers the entire universe,having obtained some favour through Thy benign side-glance.)

Vasant Panchami or Shree Panchami is celebrated during this season when Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped with great devotion all over Inida.
Vasanth Navaratri is celebrated during this season.Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu observes Navarathri during this period.The importance of the worship of Devi is mentioned in the Devi Bhagavatham.
These nine nights are also celebrated by the devotees of Lord Rama and is considered the spiritual New Year as on the ninth night, Lord Sri Rama,the incarnation of Lord Maha Vishnu was born.On the day of Rama Navami,Lord Sri Rama's birthday is celebrated with great festivities.
Ragas assigned for this season are:-Kapi,Hindolam,Kanada, Vasantha (Carnatic) Piloo, Basanth and Bahar (Hindusthani).

My manodharma,same as above.

GRISHMA RITHU:-The atmosphere during this season is extremely hot,dry and bright.The sun rays are very powerful and penetrating.People are generally tired and exerted even without much physical activity.
"Rithusamhara" by Kalidasa is a lyrical description of all seasons,starting with the Grishma Rithu.
Ragas assigned for this season are:-Darbari Kanada and Deepakam (Pantuvarli janyam).

My manodharama:-Thodi and Vakula Bharanam.

VARSHA RITHU:-The rainy season follows the scorching heat of the summer months. The downpour of rainwater on the heated soil touches every heart ,the effect soothing and calming after the onslaught of extreme heat conditions.
Everybody yearns for Varsha Rithu apart from the Vasanth Rithu, rains evoking the romantic and creative spirit in every human being.During the monsoon,for example, many of the Malhar group of ragas, like 1)Shuddha Malhar,2) Mian Ki Malhar,3) Gaud Malhar,4) Nat Malhar,5) Surdasi Malhar,6)Dhoolia Malhar,7)Ramdasi Malhar,8) Mirabai Ki Malhar,9) Charjoo Ki Malhar,10)Jaijaiwanthi Malhar,11) Roopamanjari Malhar ,which are associated with the monsoon and ascribed the magical power to bring rain, are rendered.

Dhuliya Malhar captures the anticipatory mood where the pre-rain gusts kick up the dust(dhool).

The raga ideally suited for this season is Megh and Miya ki Malhar(Hindusthani) and Madhyamavathi or Brindavana Saranga , Megharanjani and Amrithavarshini(Carnatic).

My Manodharma is same as above.

SHARAD RITHU:-Sharad rithu follows Varsha rithu and prcedes Hemantha rithu.The scorching heat of summer is a distant memory, the coldness of winter is yet to come. The weather is mild,pleasing and very moderate.

Moonlit nights are enchanting during this rithu,they are well-known as Sharad Purnima. Poets and epics describe lovingly the beauty and joy of moonlit nights during Sharad rithu.

Soundarya Lahari,the tantrik creation of Sri Adi Sankaracharya praises the face of Mother Goddess as "Sharthachandra vadana!"

His 7th sloka, "KvanathKanchi Dhaama Karikalabha Kumbhasthananathaa

Pariksheenaa Madhye Parinathasharath Chandravadanaa

Dhanurbaanaan Paashaan Srunimapi Dadhaana Karathalaihi

Purasthaadaasthaam Na PuramathithuRahoPurushikaa!"

(May the divine Mother with Her slender waist girdled with jingling mini-bells,body slightly bent in the middle by the weight of Her breast resembling the frontal globes of the forehead of a young elephant,Her face blooming like the autumnal full moon and Her four hands holding bow, arrow, noose and goad and who is the pride of Shiva,manifest Her presence before us!)

In the 15th sloka of Soundarya Lahari the Acharya has said:-

"Sharath Jyotsnaa Shubhraam ShashiyuthajataajootamakutaamVarathraasathraanasphatikaghatikaapusthakakaraamSakrunnaaa Thvaa Nathvaa Kathamiva Sathaam SannidadhatheMadhuksheeradraakshaamadhurimadhureenah Phanithayaha!"

(How can torrents of words,excelling even honey,milk and grapes,help flowing from the mouth of good men who but once make prostration to Thee who art endowed with the lustre of the autumnal moon,who art holding Thy two hands in the pose of granting boons and offering protection,and sporting in the other two a rosary of crystal beads and a book, and who wearest the crescent moon in Thy crown of plaited locks!)

The radiance of Sri Radha,the Divine Spouse of Lord Krishna is described as "Koti Sharadendu Mandale!"

Terms like "Sharadendu Vilasam" are mentioned in abundance by creative poets,in comparison to the moonlit nights of Sharad rithu.It was on a moonlit night during Sharad Rithu that the "Rasaleela" of Lord Krishna and the Gopis took place on the banks of River Jamuna,amidst mango and kadamba groves on the Holy land of Vrindavan.

Sharad Navaratri ,celebration of the Shakthi Goddess,is known as the Maha Navaratri. It celebrates the slaying of Mahishasura by Goddess Durga. This festival is celebrated all over India with great religious fervour and devotion.The Eastern part of India glorifies this festival as one of the primary festivals.

Muthuswami Dikshithar's Kamalamba Navaavarnams are rendered with great devotion during Sharad Navaratri.

Ragas most suited for this season are:-Valachi (Carnatic),Kalavathi(Hindusthani),Malkauns(Hindusthani).

My manodharma-the Sharad Poornima nights evoke Poorikalyani,Hamsanandi and Chandrakauns.

HEMANTHA RITHU:-The nights are led by Pushya nakshatra.They are longer ,but quickly slip away.It is pre-winter and not very cold.The sun during this period is dull and obscured by mist and fog.The wind blows gently,the rivers have little water and minimum flow.
The most popular festivals of lights,Deepavali and Kaarthika Pournami take place during Hemantha rithu.The North Indian festival,Karva Chauth also takes place during this rithu.This is a festival performed by married women for the welfare of their husbands.
Bhartru Hari describes Hemantha Rithu in his Sringara Satakam.He states that the nights of men who are not protected by the embrace of deer-eyed-damsels from the snowy,gusty winds are equal to living hell.
Ragas best suited for this season are:-Yaman Kalyani,Shree and Behag.
My manodharma evokes same as above.