#8- Mohanam – The Most Pleasing and Enchanting Raga – Truly “Jaganmohanam”

Appropriately named for its beauty, rAgam MOHANAM is a very pleasing and enchanting pentatonic scale, that captures the mind of every listener.  A janya of the 28th Melakarta Haikambhoji, it is an audava audava raga. The beautiful colours and  shades of Mohana raga is just brought out in 5 swaras.This raga is called as Bhoop in Hindustani. Suitable for singing at all times, but the night time is best suited for this ragam.  Ancient name of Mohanam is “rEgupti” or “raghupati”.

Arohana: S R2 G3 P D2 S
Avarohanam : S D2 P G3 R2 S

( Chatusruti Rishabam, Antara Gandharam, Chatusruti Daivatham.)

Raga chaya svarams/Jiva svarams:  ri, ga, dha

Amsa svarams:  ga and pa

Graha svarams : ga, pa dha

Prayogams of the type of “Janta”(dual swaras like gagapapadhadha) and “Datu”(skipping of a swara in between like dhagarigasari) lend great enchantment to the raga and make it very captivating. The notes R, G, D can be oscillated. Gamaka or oscillation make these notes beautiful, and prayogas in the raga aalapana containing these notes with gamaka are really bewitching… Mohanam has the ability to lift up a sagging concert.

A sarva svara mUrccanakAraka rAgam.  All the four notes ri, ga, pa, dha admit graha bhEdam (modal shift of tonic).  The ri, ga, pa, dha mUrccanas of mOhanam result in rAgams madhyamAvati, hindOLam, shuddha sAvEri and udayaravicandrika, respectively.

This raga was known as Mullai Pann in ancient times. Mohanam is basically a  Veera rasa pradhana raga.  A wide range of emotions like Sringara,Karunya etc can be very well portrayed in this raga. A well tread Mohanam reveals its folkish melodies too. Heavy classical compositions as well as light ones sound beautiful in this raga.

Historically speaking, mOhanam is perhaps the oldest rAgam known to mankind. Dr. S. Ramanathan’s doctoral dissertation on the music in shilappadikAram mentions that it is one of the most ancient paNNs.   This pentatonic scale is, therefore,  found in the music of various nations, including primitive tribes.  Ancient chinese, japanese, hungarian, swedish, and gypsy music all have traces of  Mohanam.This raga claims to possess international melody. This raga is widely used in many countries namely Burma, Thailand, Japan, China. The national Anthem of Thailand is set in raga Mohanam.

Immortal Compositions

Compositions of all types, heavy, as well as light, exist in this rAgam. Most composers have contributed generously to Mohanam.  Among the trinity, muttusvAmi dIkSitar has six kritis, and all of them bear the rAga mudra for MOhanam (an easy and captivating phrase!).  Saint Tyagaraja has 11 compositions, that include the immortal classic, “nanu paliMpa”.  Strangely, we do not have any composition in mOhanam by shyama shastri. Papanasham sivan’s “kApAli”, Mysore VAsudEvacariar’s “rA rA rAjIvalOcana” , and aruNAcala kavi’s “En paLLi koNDIrayya” are some of the popular compositions that depict the grandeur of MOhanam.  There are plenty of tevaram, and tiruvacakam songs in this ragam.  The 16th day rendition of the tiruppavai verse, “nAyakanAy ninRa nandagOpan” is sung in Mohanam.

The Thyagaraja kriti ‘Nanuu palimpa’ is a very popular kriti in this raga in Aadi talam.

An interesting anecdote is attached to this composition. It is said that when Saint Tyagaraja’s daughter was getting married, Tyagaraja was anxiously awaiting the return of his prime and favorite disciple, Walajapet Venkataramana Bhagawathar who had gone to his native village. As the auspicious time was approaching and there was no sign of Venktaramana, Tyagaraja became very agitated and restless. Suddenly his eyes spotted Venkataramana approaching, carrying a heavy portrait of Sri Rama tied to his back as his gift for the bride. Tyagaraja was so happy to see his disciple arriving, and the life-like portrait of Sri Rama, he ecstatically burst forth with the composition Nanu palimpa nadachi vacchitivo, meaning ‘You walked all the way to save me.’

It is a tradition nowadays to play this Tyagaraja composition on the Nadswaram on the occasion of weddings.

An auspicious ragam, invariably featured in most concerts. This rAgam fits into any segment of the concert, in any category, whether it is a varNam, a weighty kriti, a  detailed pallavi exposition, a rAgamalika, a viruttam, shlOkam, jAvaLi, or tillANa.  There is even a mangalam in Mohanam composed by Tyagaraja as the conclusion of his opera – pahLAda bhakti vijayam.

MOhanam was regarded as a property of the Maharajapuram school. Both Maharajapuram Vishvanatha Iyer, and his son Santhanam excelled in detailed portrayal, and have carved out exquisite renditions of MOhanam.  The kriti “gOpikA manOharam bhajEham” attributed to DIkSitar was often rendered by SantAnam. The TyAgaraja kriti, “mOhana rAma”, and the Papanasham Sivan song, ‘kApali” were favorites of Madurai Mani Iyer.  Ariyakkudi  frequently elaborated the DIkSitar kriti “rAjagOpAlam”. M.S. Subbalakshmi used to render “nArAyaNa divyanAmam” of Papanasham Sivan, often preceded by a beautiful viruttam in tamil.  MLV often rendered “rA rA rAjIvalOcana”, and “En paLLi konTIrayya”.  The varNam, ‘kapAlIshvaram” by Ambi DIkSitar, and the MuttusvAmi Diksitar kriti, ‘kAdambarIpriyAyai”  were popularized by the  D.K. Pattammal and D.K. Jayaraman.

Mohanam rāgam lends itself for extensive elaboration and exploration and has many compositions in both classical music and film music. The geetham Varavina mrithupani is one of the first short songs taught to beginners in Carnatic music. Ninnukori composed by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar is a popular Varnam in this scale. Here are some popular kritis composed in Mohanam.

Tyagaraja

endukO baga teliyadu, Adi
nannu pAlimpa, Adi
bhavanuta nA h.rdayamuna, Adi
mATi mATiki delpa, mishra cApu
mOhana rAmA, Adi
rAma ninunammina varamu, Adi
evarUrA ninnuvinA , mishra capu – divyanAma kIrttanam
rama rAma ramayani nanta, mishrta cApu – divyanama kIrttanam
vEdavAkyamani, mishra cApu – nauka caritram
dayarAni, Adi/khaNDa cApu – prahLAda bhakti vijayam opera
jaya ma”nhgaLam, khaNDa cApu  – prahLAda bhakti vijayam opera

Muthuswami Dikshitar

kAdambarIpriyAyai, mishra cApu
narasimha Agacca, mishra cApu
nAgali”ngam namAmi satatam, Adi
pAhi mAm pArvatI parameshvarI, rUpakam
rakta gaNapatiM bhajEham, Adi
rAjagOIpalam bhajEham, rUpakam

Swathi Thirunal

cintayE shrI padmanAbham, mishra cApu
k.rpAkaTAkSam kartuM mayi,  adi
mOhanaM tava vapurayi, Adi
pa”nkajanAbhOtsvAghOSa, misha cApu (First day utsava prabandham)
paripahi mAM n.rharE murArE , mishra capu

Others

Kapaali, karunai and Narayana divyanamam – Papanasam Sivan
Rara Rajeevalochana – Mysore Vasudevachar
En palli kondeer – Arunachala Kavi
Sada palaya – G. N. Balasubramaniam
Kshemam kuru – Narayana Teertha
kapAlIshvaram bhajEham, Adi (ambi dIkSitar)
sarasijAkSi, aTa (vINa kuppayyar)

Favourite Filmy Raga

The cine world has also contributed large number of film songs in mOhanam. To begin with the ever green hits In cinema, `Giridhara Gopala’ in “Meera” sung by M.S., `Aaga Inba Nilavinile’ in “Mayabazar,” `Thillayambala Nataraja’ in “Sowbagyavathi,” `Malargal nanaindana paniyale’ in “Idhayakamalam,`Andanal mudal indanal varai’ in “Pavamannippu,” `Pazhaga theriya venum’ in “Missiyamma” and `Thiruchendoorin kadalorathil’ in “Deivam” are some of the super hit songs set in Mohanam..

Illayaraja – Tamil

Illayaraja has contributed  numerous songs in this particular raga. Only a few songs are listed here highlighting the various emotions of each song..

Kannan oru Kaikuzhandai (Bhadrakali)-lullaby
Ninnukori varnam (Agni natshatrum) – feet tapper
Vandhadhey kungumam – Kizhakku Vasal – love
nilavu thoongum nEram (kunguma chimil)-lullaby
Idhayam oru kovil – Idhaya Kovil – meloncholy
Paruvamey-Nenjathai Killathe -freshness of the dawn

A.R. Rahman

Porale Ponnuthayi- Both pathos and bubbly tune joining hands
Paakathe Pakkathe- Gentleman – Peppy Number
Boom Boom – Boys- Peppy number

I conclude this review by saying that Mohanam, appropriately named for its beauty is present where beauty and love coexist.It filters out the ill-effects of Kamam, Krodham and Moham bestowing immense benefits on the seeker.

Featured Composition

Ragam: Mohanam
Talam: Adi
Tyagaraja

Pallavi

nanu pAlimpa naDaci vaccitivO nA prANanAtha

Meaning : Did you come all the way on foot to just to care for me , Oh Lord of my life!

Anupallavi

vanaja nayana mOmunu jUcuTa jIvanamani nenaru nA manasu marmamu telisi

Meaning : Knowing the secret of my love ladden heart – that I live just to see your face O lotus eyed beloved,Did you come all the way on foot to just to care for me , Oh Lord of my life!

caraNam

surapati nIla maNinibha tanuvutO nuramuna mutyapu sarula cayamutO
karamuna shara kOdaNDa kAntitO dharani tanayatO tyAgarAjArcita

Meaning : (The veera rasa can be felt here)
With your body shining like a saphire,With rows of strung pearls on your chest
With that lustrous bow and arrow in your hand (Kothanda Rama)
With Earths’ daughter Sita besides you
Did you come all the way on foot to just to care for me , Oh Lord of my life!

Tyagaraja , if he had craved so bad for something in his life , it would for the darshan of SitaRama.. He has echoed in many of his krithis for his longings to get a darshan of the SitaRama. How ecstatic he would have been when he saw his most favorite discliple walking with a beautiful portrait of his Ishtadeivam? He has outpoured his joy in the song for people like us to understand the joy that results in just casting ones eyes on the Kothanda Rama and Sita devi.

Let us start the “ManaMohana” Musical Journey,immersing ourselves in the alluring ardour of Mohanam in all it’s glory and charm.

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4 thoughts on “#8- Mohanam – The Most Pleasing and Enchanting Raga – Truly “Jaganmohanam”

  1. Vanakam Akka.

    I am currently learning carnatic violin under a disciple of Lalgudi Jayaraman in South Africa. I find your blog very interesting and extremely helpful – I recommend it to all my fellow students in the class.

    Hopefully you will add more ragams in the near future as reading about the lakshana of each ragam helps me understand each ragam better and thus allows me to play it within its own unique identity.

    Nandri and keep up the excellent work.

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