#12-Hamsanadam – Call of a Swan

Hamsanada literally means “Call of Swan”. Hamsanadam is a pleasing,soft minor raga with an exotic melody and striking identity Hamsanadam a pratimadhyma raga, is also a vvadi raga in which both  Shatsruti Dha and Kakali Ni occurs. It sets a romantic and joyous mood. Dr.S. Bhagyalakshmy has described Hamsanadam in her book on Raga Lakshanas as a shadava vakra shadava janya raga derived from the 60th mela Neetimati with the following scale. It is one of those janya ragams that is more popular than its parent. Its a sublime and pleasant evening raga.

Arohana – S R2 M2 P D3 N3 S

Avarohana – s N3 D3 N3 P M2 R2 S.

(Shadjam, Chathusruthi Rishabham, Prathimadhyamam, Panchamam, Shadsruthi Daivatham, Kakali Nishadam). Some scholars say that When sung with the Daivatham, the raga becomes Sarangatharangini.

Nowadays Hamsanadam is played without the Dhaivatham with the following scale.

Arohana – S R2 M2 P N3 S

Avarohana – S N3  P M2 R2 S.

Jiva Swaras – R, N

Prayogas/Sancharas : Janta svara prayogas PP NN RR SS NN PP and Dattusvara prayoga like PRSRSN – PSNSNP  give a special uplift to this raga. Sancharas that  bring out the complete essence of raga include  RM PDNDNPMR  –  s R M , R S n.d. n. p. d. n. s R  –   RMPDPMR – MPDNDP – NDMPMR – S R M P D N S – s* NN DD NN PP MRS etc.

This raga is a favourite one for the instrumentalists and vocalists alike. Chitti Babu the great Veena Vidwan has completely brought out the beauty of this raga with elaborate raga alapana and kalpana swaras in the masterpiece song Bantureethi Kolu penned by the great saint Sri.Thyagaraja. S.Balachander another Vainika played Hamsanada with an occasional ShaTshruti dhaivata in Alapana as well as in the kriti Bantureethikolu. Smt. Kalpakam Swaminathan’s pathantara includes D3 in every ascent phrase, both in AlApanA and in the same kRti Chitravina Ravikiran too follow this practice of using D3 in his own compositions and krithis as a rare phrase.

It is this usage of Dhaivatham that gives the raga an elegant and striking identity which takes the beauty of raga to Himalayan heights. In fact, usage of the note D3 as an anuswara(silent note) to  N3 note, adds beauty  during the raga ‘alapanam”  At the same time, absence of the note  D3 in a Keerthan rendition, does not at all alter the raga ‘bhavam’ at any level.It should be mentioned here that a slow rendition of this particular raga reduces the charm of this raga. This raga shines well in madhyamakala sancharas and madhyamakala kalpana swaras. Kalyanarama’ is a song in Hamsanadam by UthukAdu venkatasubbayar which has both the rare prayogas of the raga – P D N and R G R. Hamsanadam is greatly employed in Ragamalika Swaras, Ragam Thanam Pallavi, Viruthams etc.

Immortal Compositions

This raga has become popular because of Thyagaraja’s Bantureethi Kolu. This is  a beloved kriti, that is mostly the reason that this raga has become very popular. I have not heard any compositions by Dikshitar or Shyama Sastri in this ragam. Recently I heard Sri. T.N.Seshagoplan singing the composition of Uthukkadu Venakatasubbaiyar Kalyanarama,which begins at Tharastayi Shadjam.   The fleet of manodharma swaras rendered by Sri. TNS was matchless, breathless and  just like a flock of swans / hamsas gracefully and majestically gliding with  slow and  swift wing beats across the sky. The swara presentation was just like white swans beginning to soar through the sky demonstrating their beauty and grace.

Also heard TNS singing the  krthi ‘krpanidhe krpaajaladhe,’ of Muthiah Bhagavathar  adding an  extra feather of   Chittaswaram composed by TNS himself   portraying the rich raga bhava.  The essaying of the raga  was unique with majestic glides and curves peculiar to  Hamsanada very much  like the slow flap of the wings of elegant Swans.  His  disciple Madurai Sundar also presents the krithi Kalyanarama in this raga in an exemplary way.

Some of the most popular classical compositions include

banturIti – Thyagarajar
Kalyana Rama – Oothukkadu Venkatakavi
bhAramA I bAluni – G.N.Balasubramaniam
Dasashatadala – G.N.Balasubramaniam
Neeye Paramugham – Papanasam Sivam
Saraswathi Saradha – Bhajan
dEvAya havishhE – Harikesannalur Muthaiah Bhagavathar
krpAnidhE – Harikesannalur Muthaiah Bhagavathar
sOma sUryAgni – Harikesannalur Muthaiah Bhagavathar
ezhiluDai – Tanjavur Sankara Aiyer
illai iddharaNiyil – AM
kandanai ninaindu
pADa vEnDumE- M M Dhandapani desikar
paramanandha varadha- Meesu Krishnaiyer

Indian mythology about SWAN and Raga Hamsanadam

It is said in Indian mythology that a swan or hamsa can separate water from milk. In other words it has got the capacity to grab the good one and leave the unwanted one. Saint Thyagaraja has clearly brought out this message in the composition “Bantureethi”(in Anupallavi) to expel the six vices such as lust, anger, greed, delusion, arrogance, and envy from our mind. In the lyrics, they are indicated as the vices ‘beginning’ from lust, as in the chronological order. Here the context is ‘Rama Bhakti’ or devotion to Rama to eliminate all the six vices through Nadopasana. The mere utterance of Rama Nama is said to be a ‘taraka mantra’ or ‘life saving prayer’in itself. It is said that Hamsa, or the Swan, is the vehicle of Hindu Goddess Saraswathi. In Hinduism, Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, learning and art. The white colour of the swan denotes the symbol of purity and divine knowledge. Hamsa in Sanskrit means swan & soul— the sounds of breathing (the sound of the in and out breath). Other attributes of Hamsa include, being treated as symbol of purity, detachment, divine knowledge, cosmic breath (prana) and highest spiritual accomplishment. Hamsa is a swan and it represents the person who has attained enlightenment. The Ragadevatha Hamsanada bestows all the above divine qualities if sung with true devotion.

Favourite Filmy Raga

In the world of movies, Illayaraja has contributed a lot in this raga. There is so much beauty and emotion in the song Thendral vandhu ennai thodum. This is music which gives pure pleasure.

Om Namaha – Idhayathai Thirudathey-Illayaraja( Hamsanadam only till 4th line of Charanam)
isaiyil toDangudamA -hey rAm (Isaiyil thodanguthamma starts in Hamsanaadam, becomes Saranga Tharangini in the first half of the charaNam and after that becomes Shuddh Sarang.)
nIyE parAmukamAyin jekandanil- dugArAm
shrI rAmanin shrI dEviyE hanumAn unnai- priyA

Malayalam Songs

5) DANAMANI – PRAJA – M.G Sreekumar

I conclude this review by making a note that  the greatest quality of a Swan is its capacity to separate milk from water. With Knowledge of the Self, a person is capable of adapting this quality of Swan and it will help him to swim across the ocean of ‘Samsara.’The elimination of the six vices of lust, anger, greed, delusion, arrogance, and envy brings purity to the soul. The soulful Hamsanada brings in Purity,Love, Harmony and Compassion!

Featured Composition with Meaning

Raga – Hamsandadam
Thalam – Adi
Composer – Thyagarajar

MEANING: (Courtesy: carnaticopia & Ranga Ramanuja Iyengar’s book)

In this beautiful Bantureethi Kolu Carnatic song, Sri Thyagaraja swamy pleads with Lord Rama to give him the post of a guard for Rama. The symbolic meaning is that he always wants to be in his presence always (Sri Rama’s Sannidhi).


baNTu rIti koluv(i)yya(v)ayya rAma

Meaning :

O Lord rAma! Give me the privilege of being in Your service as a servitor.


tuNTa viNTi vAni modalaina mad(A)dula
goTTi nEla gUla jEyu nija (baNTu)

Meaning :

In the Anupallavi, Sri Thyagaraja Swamy says that, the guard’s post should be such that he is empowered to destroy all the demons which are Arishadvargas (Arishad Vargas are the six passions of the mind: Kama- lust, craze, desire; Krodha – anger, hatred; Lobha – greed, miserliness, narrow minded; Moha – delusory emotional attachment; Mada or Ahankara – pride, stubborn mindedness; and Matsarya – envy, jealousy,show or vanity, and pride) and since the guard is empowered to do so, he needs such a guard’s post.


rOmAncam(a)nu ghana kancukamu
rAma bhaktuD(a)nu mudra biLLayu
rAma nAmam(a)nu vara khaDgam(i)vi
rAjillun(a)yya tyAgarAjunikE

Meaning :

In the Caranam, Thyagaraja says that the sublimated (“rOmAncam(a)nu”) version of kama is devotion that acts as his strong shield (“ghana kancukamu”). Tyagaraja requests that he should be blessed with the emblem (“mudra”) of Ramabhakti (“rAma bhaktuD(a)nu”), given a sword (“khaDgamivi”) called Rama Naama (the name of Rama) to perform his guard’s job. – O Lord! all these will shine (“rAjillun(a)yya”) on the person of this tyAgarAja.

Enjoy Soulful and Pure Hamsanadam by downloading it here 🙂


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8 thoughts on “#12-Hamsanadam – Call of a Swan

    • Hello dinakar

      Welcome to this blog.

      That is the difficulty of film songs. The background score some times give the color of an allied raga and the song will be in a different raga. That is why I never comment about film songs when people ask raga of film songs. But there are experts in this field with sound knowledge in Carnatic Music, identifying raga in film songs like Sri. Rajendrakumar of rajamanjari.blogspot.in.

      Also please mention about which song you are referring to.

  1. My comment was on the songs you posted as by Ilayaraaja. Thendral vandhu ennai thodum – Thendrale Ennai Thodu – Illayaraja
    Kanni Ponnu -Ninaivellam Nithya-Illayaraja
    Om Namaha – Idhayathai Thirudathey-Illayaraja
    isaiyil toDangudamA -hey rAm
    Swargame Endralum – Ooru vittu ooru vanthu( A very capturing song with all the curves of Hamsanadam)
    shrI rAmanin shrI dEviyE hanumAn unnai- priyA

  2. Hello Dhinakar

    Here is the expert opinion from Rajendrakumar of rajamanjari.blogspot.in.

    Swargame endRaalum, ThendRal vandhu, and Kanni poNNu kai mele have the Chatushruthi Dhaivatam in many parts and therefore are in Saranga Tarangini only. Om Namaha is in Hamsanaadam till the 4th line of the charaNam after which the Suddha Dhaivatam is mixed. In any case, it cannot be Saranga TharangiNi because it is Shudhdha Dhiavatam. One can say Hamsanadam plus alien note.

    Isaiyil thodanguthamma starts in Hamsanaadam, becomes Saranga Tharangini in the first half of the charaNam and after that becomes Shuddh Sarang.

    Iravum nilavum is in Shuddh sarang. So is Poo vaasam.

    The only song of ILaiyaraaja in Hamsanadam is Minnaram from Guru(malayalam).

  3. both saranga tharangini and Hamsanadham has dhaivatham; the former hass chatushruthi and the later shatshruthi. Bantureethi kolu has to be sung only with d3. Many musicians makes a mistake by singing that krithi eschewing d3. I am surprised to know RGR and PDN prayogams are present in the krithi Kalyana rama. Can you mention which singer sings that version? the popular version lacks those svarams.

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