#9 – Shanmukhapriya – The Raga with a Splendiferous Melody

Shanmukhapriya,  a very beautiful raga is the 56th Melakartha which belongs to the tenth Chakra,  Disi (Direction) Chakra – 10 directions in all – including Akash and Patal.  Dikshitar school had a different name called Chamara for this raga.

In Mind, Body and Soul Chakra – Chakra 10 is higher Mental Chakra connected to the higher mental planes and rules special thought. It helps to bring in all levels of wonderful information. Universal knowledge is stored here. This raga  has the effect of sharpening the intellect of the singer as well that of the listener. It instills courage in one’s mind and replenishes the energy in the body.

This  major versatile raga which renders a very pleasing effect is suitable for singing and listening at all times and  encapsulates almost emotions or rasas namely,Bhakthi,Shringara,Karuna, Atbudha, Hasya.Handled as a main raga in concert with elaborate Alapana, and Manodharma Swaras.

Arohana: Sa, Ri2, Ga2, Ma2, Pa, Dha1, Ni2, Sa*
Avarohana: Sa*, Ni2, Dha1, Pa, Ma2,Ga2, Ri2, Sa

(Chatusruti rishaba, Sadharana gandhara, Prati madhyama,Suddha daivatha and Kaishiki nishada.)

R.R.Keshavamurthy notes that all the swaras are jIvaswarasand R,P and N are Nyasa Swaras.

For this ragam, the visesha prayogams are SGRGMP – MPDNDS – DPDS – SMPNS – MPGGRS.Janta Prayogas of GG RR SS NN, and prayogas like NRGR NRND  omitting Shadjam gives a special beauty to the raga. Though avarohanam has SNDP, use of S Daa P is very common.  In the prayoga P D Nee S the N gets elongated to stress the emotion or mood of the raga. PMGRS, PDNSRGRSD, NDNDPD are some often-used sancharas. These sancharas are full of varied shades and dimensions that produces various emotions such as happiness, pathos, love etc.

The raga is very beautiful in all the sthAyis. The nyAsa on RShabha is particularly endearing. Altogether a rAga that has enormous scope both in terms of expansion and in evoking moods. Although this rAga is not technically a “ghana” rAga, tAna in the rAga is captivating.

Shanmukhapriya literally means ‘that which is the beloved of Shanmukha (Lord Subramanya), who was born out of the blazing wisdom-eye of Lord Shiva. I was just wondering that if Shanmukhapriya is so….beautiful, how beautiful the six-faced deity Himself must be. Whenver I indulge in singing/ playing veena the raga Shanmukhapriya, my mind is filled with the divine Swaroopam of Lord Subramanya with the wonderful smile on his face. I personally attribute all the success,accolades and prosperity to Lord Subramanya who has always been a guiding light throughout my life. So I have named my music school as “Shanmukhapriya School of Music”. I consider the Raga Devatha for Shanmukhapriya as Lord Subramanya.

I have always felt that Lord Muruga and Shanmukhapriya has a close association. There are a number of devotional songs on Lord Muruga that are based on Shanmukhapriya. Of these my personal favourite is “Saravanabhava Ennum Thiru Mandhiram” written by Papanasam Sivan for its sparkling simple lyrics. Another favourite song is Vilayaadaa Ithu Nerama.

The  flow of the raga could be compared to the various emotions crossing the Lord’s face. The six faces of Lord Shanmukha denotes the following emotions of ragas (This is my own interpretation. This may change from people to people)

1.One face sheds rays of Light and removes the dense darkness shrouding the world; (Spiritually uplifting character of Raga Shanmukhapriya)

2.One face with gracious look lovingly showers boons on his devotees who praise Him with Love and Joy; (Denotes the Karuna/Shanta Rasa of the Raga)

3.One face watches over the sacrifices of the Brahmans who perform them without deviating from the strict Vedic traditions; (The Guru Aspect –  Bhakthi Rasa)

4.One face like full moon, which brightens all the quarters of the world, lights the sages’ minds to enable them to search for hidden Truth; ( Santhosha Bhava/Happiness)

5.One face with raging heart performs battle-destroy His enemies(veera rasa of the raga depicted here)

6.One face smiles lovingly on His young consort, the pretty daughter of the hunting tribe (Sringara Rasa)

Immortal Compositions

As mentioned earlier, Shanmukhapriya is called Chamaram in the Dikshitar school. Most of his compositions has the raga mudra on them.  The name of the raga, Chamaram is beautifully incorporated in the charanam of Dikshitar’s composition ‘Siddhi Vinayakam’ i.e.,chatra chamara pariiveejitam. Also in his Navagraha kriti on Ketu “Mahasuram ketumaham”, the sentence Guruguha Chamara Bharanam sounds very spontaneous and beautiful. Surprisingly there is only one kriti of Thygagaraja in this raga: ‘Vaddane varu’ in Adi tala.The credit for showing the possibilities in and beauty of the rAga goes to Muthuswamy Dikshithar.  SyAmASAstri, although has not used the rAga as such, has handled(discovered) cintAmaNi, a janya of the rAga.

The versatility of this raga can be brought out completely in two different aspects when we take the songs rendered by Maharajapuram Santhanam and T.N.Seshagoplan.  Maharajapuram Santhanam singing Vilayada Ithu Nerama brings the feel of pathos requesting the Lord to have mercy and T.N.Seshagopalan’s Raga Alapana in Shanmukhapriya brings out the sharp intellect of a fine singer, taking the listener to the mountain heights of ecstasy.

The major kritis are: 

1. marivErE dikkevarayya rAmA (Telugu) — Adi-Patnam Subramanya Iyer
2. Valli Nayaka Nive (Telugu) — Adi-Muthiah Bhagavatar
3. Saravana Bhava (Tamil) — Adi-Papanasam Sivan
4. Parvathy Nayakane – Adi- Papanasam Sivan
5. Siddhi Vinayakam – Rupakam- Muthuswami Dikshitar
6. Mahasutam ketumaham -Rupakam- Muthuswami Dikshitar kritis.
7. Mamava karunaya (Sanskrit) — Misra chapu-Swati Tirunal
8. Omkara Pranava (Varnam) by Balamurali Krishna
9. Vilayada Ithu nerama- T.N.Bala (USA)
10. Muthai tharu bhakti – Arunagirinathar
11. Abhimaanamutho Nannubrovaradha –  Mysore Vasudevachar

Favourite Filmy Raga

When someone mentions Shanmukhapriya, it is Marainthirunthu Paarkkum from the film Thillana Mohanambal that comes to the mind.  This famous song starring Naattiyapuyal Padmini and Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan is an all time favourite and ever green hit. That is the sort of effect K V Mahadevan leaves behind. Again the scene has burnt itself in our memory by the way the song was picturised, the acting of Sivaji and the beauty of Padmini. Added to this as usual are the lyrics of Kannadasan. The lyrics beautifully convey the situation in just a few words. The other Shanmukhapriya that K V Mahadevan comes up is for K B Sudarambal, “Pazam Ni Appa”. Again a lovely Shanmugapriya.Another old classic is Mayilerum vadivelane (from film  Avvayar).

A similar scene (like Thillana Mohanambal song) was enacted in a fairly recent movie, ‘Sangamam’, with Rehman and Devika two actors trying the same thing done by Sivaji and Padmini and A R Rahman coming up with ‘Sowkiyama Kanne Sowkhiyama’. Neither the song, the picturisation, the lyrics or the acting come close to the Tillana  Mohanambal song.

Illayaraja came up with some good Shanmukhapriyas.

1.Than Thananam- Pudiya Varpugal

2.Takida Thadimi -Salangai Oli

3. Sollayo Vai Tirandu- MoghaMul(It takes a genius to use Shanmugapriya, which is always used in a robust manner, in a ‘viraha’ situation as in ‘Moga Mull’)

4.Ooru Vittu ooru vandhu –  Karagattakkaran – pakka “Dadppanguthu”

5. “Mazhai varuvadhu mayilukku theriyum – Rishimoolam – This song has excellent mridhangam , veena bits , flute, and  other laced interludes . ( just search you tube and have a great listening pleasure – simply superb!!!)

Kannukkul nooru nilava – vedham pudhidhu –  Devendran – The song has Shanmukhapriya rasam written all over it. The prelude itself is enough to find that out as it covers all the swarams, aarohanam, avarohanam and other aspects of the raagam.

I conclude this review by saying that Shanmukhapriya  is a true listening pleasure which elevates us to a spiritual plane. She’s adorable, appealing, astounding, captivating and more than anything, she’s devotional. We can go for a mindblowing melody or block bustering rap music confidentally in this raga.

Featured Composition

Ragam: Shanmukhapriya
Talam: Rupakam
Composer: Muthuswami Dikshithar

This is one of the sixteen krithi-s that Dikshitar has composed on Lord Ganesha. Apart from the descriptions of the Elephant-headed Lord, there is reference in the Charanam section to Lord Krishna who was born under the star of Rohini and the episode of the Syamanthaka Mani (a rare gem having a magical quality). Krishna was accused of acquiring this gem by unjust means. Krishna is said to have worshipped Vinayaka to ward off this accusation and clear himself. The raga name is beautifully woven into the line “Chathra chamarapari vijitham”.


Siddhi Vinayakam Anisam Chintayaamyaham
Prasiddha Gananaayakam Vishishtaartha Daayakam Varam


Siddha Yaksha Kinnaraadi Sevitama-khilajagat
Prasiddham Mula Pankajamadhyastham Modaka Hastam


Bhadrapadamaasa Cathurtthyaam Brahmanaadi Pujitam
Paasaankusha Dharam Chatra Chaamara Parivijitham
Raudrabhaava Rahitam Daasa Janahridaya Viraajitam
Rauhineeyanujaar cchitam Ihanaa Varjitam
Adri Raaja Sutaatmajam ananta guruguhaagrajam
Bhadrapada Padaambujam Bhaasamaana Chaturbhujam

Meaning: (TK Govinda Rao’s book):

I meditate always on Siddhi Vinaayaka, the Lord of the group of Siddhas. He bestows special boons, the great one. He is worshipped by Siddhas, Yakshas, Kinnaras and others and is renowned all over the world, who is the centre of Mulapankaja who has sweet Modaka in his hand.
He is worshipped by Brahmanas and others during the fourth day of the bright fortnight of the month of BhadraPada (Aug-Sept). He who adorns the noose – paasa – and goad – ankusa. He is honoured with the umbrella – chatra and fly-flap – Chamara, who is devoid of anger, who is enshrined in the hearts of humble – Dasas, revered by Krishna the younger brother of Balaraama. He is devoid of desire. He is the son of the daughter of Mount Himavan – Parvati, elder brother of Cupid-like Guruguha. His lotus-like feet bestows auspiciousness. He has four lustrous hands.

Take a holy dip in Shanmukhapriya ! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “#9 – Shanmukhapriya – The Raga with a Splendiferous Melody

  1. Dear Arnuradhamahesh, you ‘ve become my manasa guru & The GOD has come to help me in your roopam.Iam 54 now .Had started my lessons from the age of 8 .Anyway thanks a lot .May Gof bless you for your mentality to share your knowledge with others & to spend your valuable time for others. Im very thankful to you.Will try to contact you in Kochi
    .With lots of love & regards,,

  2. Got to know wonderful info s about the raaga, which stirs my soul, while hearing…. the informations and your experiences were compiled in a great way…kudos for that…
    also, please consider listening ‘gopika vasantham’ song from ‘his highness abdulla’ film , which is an authentic composition on the divine raaga. in my opinion , the shanmukha priya raaga has been given the prime role in the ‘how to name it’ album of ilayaraaja !

  3. my favourite film song in this ragam is “Kuranginil piranthavan manithan” from the movie “Thookku Thookki”.

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