Literally, the meaning is ‘one who showers amrit, the elixir of immortality.‘ It is a combination of two words: amrit and varshini. The present day Amritavarshini could be placed as the janya of the 65th mela Mechakalyani. Or the 66th mela Chitrambari. The scale fits to either of these melas as the raga does not have a Dhaivata.
Amruthavarshini is the raga is said to bring showers of rain. The raga Malhar in Hindustani classical music is said to be equivalent to Amruthavarshini. Even in Puranas, its written that in Thretayug, when Ravana set fire to Hanuman’s tail, Hanuman set fire to entire Lanka. Then Ravana played the Amruthavarshini raga on his Veena and brought forth rain to put off the fire.
Amritavarshini as it is sung today has the following
Aarohana and Avarohana:
S G3 M2 P N3 S
S N3 P M2 G3 S
The swaras used are Antara Gandharam, Prati Madhyamam and Kakali Nishadam. It is an Audava raga and is very melodious. It does not give scope for treatment as a major raga in a concert. One reason could be the absence of major compositions in the raga.The very popular and frequently heard ones are Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s ‘Anandamritakarshini’ in Adi Tala and Muthiaha Bhagavatar’s ‘Sudhamayee’ in Rupaka Tala.
The prayogas such as P M2 G3 M2 ¸G3, Saa Gaa; G M P N M aa, P N S’ G’aa etc enhance the beauty of the raga. The notes G and N with elongated karvais sound beautiful and help to bring out the raga bhava.This raga makes an impact if sung briefly. Any overstretched aalapana makes this raga lose its charm and effectiveness. The raga is a hot favorite for ragamalika swara singing in ragam-taanam-pallavi.
There is a popular anecdote about this raga. It is said that while visiting Ettayapuram, a small village in Tamil Nadu, the great composer Muthuswamy Dikshitar was anguished to see the drought-hit arid land and people facing severe water shortage. Moved by their plight, Dikshitar looked up to the sky and burst forth in praise of the goddess in this raga. He beseeched Devi to bring rain and alleviate the plight of the drought-hit people.He addressed the Devi as ‘Anandamritakarshini, Amritavarshini’. When he sang ‘Salilam Varshaya Varshaya’, meaning ‘let the rain pour’, it is said the sky opened up. There was such a torrential rain that the place got flooded. He had then to plead ‘Sthambhaya Sthambhaya’, meaning ‘stop, stop’.This incident has given rise to the practice of musicians gathering together to sing this composition when there rains fail.
Get Soaked with the Cool Showers of Amrithavarshini 🙂